We have identified two major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-linked Ir genes that control the antibody response made by rats against class I major alloantigens. We have named these genes Ir-RT1Aa and Ir-RT1Ac. These Ir genes determine responsiveness of the immunized animal in a typical codominant fashion. There is no evidence so far for trans-complementation between low-responder haplotypes. Detailed studies of Ir-RT1Aa indicate that it controls the antibody response to at least two distinct alloantigenic determinants on RT1Aa molecules. These class I molecules thus behave like hapten-carrier conjugates when the response against the carrier is under Ir gene control. Analysis of the origin of alloantibody-forming cells in tetraparental radiation chimeras indicates that Ir-RT1Aa must control the provision of effective help to B cells. In many respects therefore, the properties of Ir-RT1Aa are broadly similar to those described for Ir genes controlling antibody responses to conventional antigens. The existence of apparently conventional Ir genes controlling the antibody response to major alloantigens strongly suggest that the processing of these transmembrane molecules by host antigen-presenting cells is a prerequisite for immune induction, and that it is the MHC of the responder rather than that of the allograft to which T helper cells are restricted in alloimmune responses in vivo.

This content is only available as a PDF.