To examine the role of Ia antigens in controlling T cell activation in vivo, unprimed (CBA X B6)F1 (H-2k X H-2b) T cells were positively selected to sheep erythrocytes (SRC) for 5 d in irradiated F1 mice in the presence of large doses of anti-Iak antibody. With selection in the presence of broad-spectrum anti-Iak antibody (A.TH anti-A.TL antiserum), the activated T cells were markedly reduced in their capacity to collaborate with either B10.BR (I-Ak I-Bk I-Jk I-Ek I-Ck) (kkkkk) or B10.A(4R) (kbbbb) B cells but gave good helper responses with B10 (bbbbb) and (B10 X B10.BR)F1 B cells. Because there was no evidence for suppression, these findings were taken to imply that the anti-Iak antibody bound to Ia determinants on radioresistant macrophagelike cells of F1 host origin and blocked the activation of the IGk-restricted subgroup of F1 T cells but did not affect activation of the Iab-restricted T cell subgroup. Analogous experiments in which F1 T cells were selected to SRC in F1 mice in the presence of monoclonal anti-I-Ak antibody gave different results. In this situation, the reduction in T cell help for Iak-bearing B cells applied to B10.A(4R) B cells but not to B10.BR B cells. With selection of F1 T cells in B10.A(4R) mice, by contrast, anti-I-Ak antibody blocked T cell help for both B10.A(4R) and B10.BR B cells. These data suggested that genes telomeric to the I-A subregion were involved in controlling T cell activation and T-B collaboration. Because no evidence could be found that I-B through I-C determinants per se could act as restrictions elements, the working hypothesis for the data is that Iak-restricted T cells consist of two subgroups of cells: one subgroup is restricted by I-A-encoded molecules, whereas the other is restricted by I-A/E hybrid molecules encoded by two separated genes situated in the I-A and I-E subregions, respectively. The notion that A/E hybrid molecules serve as restriction elements is in line with the findings of other workers that these molecules can act as alloantigens and control responses to certain antigens under double Ir gene control.

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