Previous reports have demonstrated that accessory cells function to present soluble protein antigens in association with gene products encoded within the I region of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) to antigen-reactive T helper cells. The biochemical events that occur during antigen presentation are, however, not well-documented primarily because of the difficulties involved in purifying sufficient numbers of homogeneous antigen-presenting cells. In this paper, a number of Ia-positive B lymphocyte tumor lines are shown to be capable of presenting soluble protein antigens to antigen-reactive continuous T cell lines in an MHC-restricted fashion. The characterization of the antigen presentation function of these tumor cells indicates that the tumor cells have many of the functional antigen-presenting characteristics previously thought to be limited to macrophages. These tumor cells should provide a useful model system for determining the biochemical events that occur in antigen uptake and processing as well as for determining the potential interactions between processed antigen and Ia molecules on the plasma membrane of these antigen-presenting cells.

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