We successfully cloned antigen-specific T cells from murine gut-associated lymphoreticular tissue, i.e., Peyer's patches, which are dependent upon T cell growth factor and independent of antigen for continuous growth. These clones exhibit helper activity for IgA responses to sheep erythrocytes (SRBC) and have been designated T helper (Th) A. Two broad categories of Th A clones have been maintained in continuous culture. The first group supports IgM and largely IgA anti-SRBC plaque-forming cell (PFC) responses in both normal and SRBC-primed splenic B cell cultures, whereas the second group supports low IgM, IgG1, and IgG2 and high IgA PFC responses. Subclones derived from single cells maintain the parent helper properties when propagated in culture for long periods (greater than 7 mo). Cloned Th A cells are antigen specific and do not support polyclonal or immune responses to other thymus dependent antigens in normal B cell cultures. Th A cells require full histocompatibility for helper functions because addition of cloned Th A cells to B cell cultures from other H-2 types does not result in IgA responses. Cloned Th A cells are Thy-1.2+ and Lyt-1+ and Lyt-2-, Ig-, and I-A-. Th A cells bear Fc receptors for IgA and do not possess receptors for IgM or IgG isotypes. Thus, T cells that primarily promote IgA isotype responses have been isolated in high frequency from murine PP, an anatomical site of major importance for induction and regulation of the IgA response.

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