The immune response (Ir) to the random copolymer GLphi depends upon the function of two Ir genes, Ir-GLphi-beta[beta] and Ir-GLphi-alpha[alpha], mapped to the I-A and I-E/C subregions of the major histocompatibility complex, respectively. In this paper, the site(s) of expression of the products of these two Ir genes was examined by evaluating T-lymphocyte proliferative responses of bone marrow radiation chimeras. Chimeras were created in [alpha+beta- X alpha-beta+]F1 responder mice by lethal irradiation and reconstitution with a mixture of bone marrow cells from both parental strains. These chimeras failed to respond to GLphi, although they were capable or responding to the much weaker antigens, (T,G)-A--L, TEPC-15, pigeon cytochrome c, and (H,G)-A--L. This failure to respond to GLphi was shown not to be the result of a cryptic mixed lymphocyte reaction, as similar chimeras created in (alpha+beta+ X alpha-beta+)F1 mice responded well to GLphi, although they possessed almost the same potential histoincompatibility. Furthermore, the lack of response to GLphi could not be attributed to a general failure of the two parental cell types in the chimeras to collaboratc with each other, as each chimeric parental cell type could respond to dinitrophenyl conjugated ovalbumin presented on nonimmune spleen cells from the other parent. Thus, the failure of low responder parental into F1 high responder chimeras to generate an immune response to GLphi suggests that immune competence for this antigen requires at least one cell type in the immune system to express gene products of both the Ir-glphi-alpha and -beta genes, i.e. one cell must be of high responder genotype. The the antigen-presenting cell is one such cell type was shown by experiments in which GLphi-primed T lymphocytes from responder F1 mice were stimulated with antigen bound to nonimmune spleen cells. Only spleen cells from responder F1 and recombinant mice could present GLphi. Neither of the two complementing nonresponder parental spleen cell populations, either alone or mixed together, could present GLphi, although both could present purified protein derivative of tuberculin. This was shown to be the case for T cells positively selected in vitro as well as freshly explanted T cells. Thus, both Ir-GLphi-alpha and Ir-GLphi-beta gene products must be expressed in the same antigen-presenting cell to generate a T-lymphocyte proliferative response to GLphi. The implications of these findings for models of two gene complementation are discussed.

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