We previously described a cloned cell line that combines information for a unique display of cell surface antigens and specialized function similar to activated natural killer (NK) cells. In addition to conventional cellular targets such as the YAC-1 and MBL-2 lymphomas, this cloned line also lysed lipopolysaccharide-activated B lymphocytes. To determine whether some NK cells can inhibit B cell function, we tested the ability of NK-like clones to suppress Ig secretion in vitro and in vivo. These cloned cells suppressed Ig secretion when they constituted as few as 0.2% of the total cell population and inhibition did not require identity at the H-2 locus. We suggest that some NK cells might recognize non-major histocompatibility complex gene products on activated B lymphocytes and lyse these cells, and this might represent a fundamental cell-cell interaction that regulates antibody secretion by activated B cells.

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