The cellular requirements for immune response (Ir) gene expression in a T cell proliferative response under dual Ir gene control were examined with radiation-induced bone marrow chimeras. The response to poly(Glu55Lys36Phe9)n (GLphi) requires two responder alleles that in the [B10.A X B10.A(18R)]F1 map in I-Ab and I-Ek/Cd. Chimeras in which a mixture of the nonresponder B10.A parental cells (which possess only I-Ek/Cd) and the nonresponder B10.A(18R) parental cells (which possess only I-Ab) were allowed to mature in a responder F1 environment did not respond to GLphi, which suggests that at least one cell participating in the response needed to possess both responder alleles to function. When T cells from such A + 18R leads to F1 chimeras were primed in the presence of responder antigen-presenting cells (APC), the chimeric T cells responded to GLphi, which suggests that both responder alleles must be expressed in the APC but not necessarily in the T cell. Interestingly, acutely irradiated F1 animals were found not to be an adequate source of responder APC for priming the proliferating T cell because of the rapid turnover of peripheral APC after irradiation. In adoptive transfer experiments, T cell-depleted bone marrow had to be used as a source of responder APC. When bone marrow cells from (B10.A X B10)F1 responder animals were allowed to mature in a low-responder B10 of B10.A parental environment, neither chimera, F1 leads to A or F1 leads to B, could respond to GLphi. This demonstrated that the presence of high-responder APC, which derive from the donor bone marrow, was not sufficient to generate a GLphi response. It appears that in addition it is essential for the T lymphocytes to mature in a high-responder environment. Finally, B10.A(4R) T cells, which possess neither Ir-GLphi responder allele, could be educated to mount a GLphi-proliferative response provided that they matured in a responder environment and were primed with APC expressing both responder alleles. Therefore, the gene products of the complementing Ir-GLphi responder alleles appear to function as a single restriction element at the level of the APC. T cells that do not possess responder alleles are not intrinsically defective, because they could be made phenotypic responders if they developed in an environment in which responder major histocompatibility complex (MHC) products were learned as self and if antigen was presented to them by APC expressing responder MHC products.

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