This report has examined the mechanisms by which major histocompatibility complex (MHC) non-restricted suppressor T cells (Ts), induced by the i.v. injection of 2,4-dinitropheny (DNP)-modified, syngeneic lymphoid cells (DNP-LC), suppress the passive transfer of contact sensitivity mediated by syngeneic and allogeneic immune delayed hypersensitivity T cells (TDH). In terms of suppression of syngeneic TDH, it was found that the suppressive action of the Ts was only blocked by pretreatment with soluble syngeneic DNP-LC membrane preparations. Monomeric DNP-lysine, polymeric DNP-protein conjugates, and syngeneic TNP-LC membranes did not inhibit Ts function. Further experiments showed that inhibition of syngeneic suppression could be achieved by DNP-modified-membrane preparations that were only H-2D-region compatible with the Ts donor. Thus, Ts antigen receptors in this system specifically recognize DNP-modified H-2D-region determinants. In contrast, it was found that pretreatment os syninduced Ts with syngeneic DNP-LC membranes did not inhibit the ability to suppress allogeneic TDH. However, pretreatment of Ts with DNP-allogeneic membranes which were H-2D-end compatible to the allogeneic target TDH eliminated their ability to suppress the specific allogeneic TDH, leaving intact suppression of syngeneic or third party TDH. It is proposed that perturbation of the immune system by i.v. injection of syngeneic NDP-LC leads to the induction of a polyclonal wave of DNP-specific Ts activity. Some members of this set of Ts recognize DNP-self MHC determinants with moderate affinity and are thus specifically inhibited after pretreatment with those DNP-self determinants. Other members of this set display receptors which cross-react with high affinity with DNP-allogeneic determinants and thus suppress allogeneic TDH cells. These allosuppressive clones can thus be specifically inhibited only by pretreatment with DNP-LC membranes, MHC-compatible with the target TDH. The data are discussed in terms of current models of T-cell cross-reactivity and T-cell-receptor recognition.

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