A culture supernatant of concanavalin A-activated spleen cells (Con A supernatant) induced murine macrophages to express Ia antigens in vitro. Biochemical characterization of the Con A supernatant indicated that the macrophage Ia antigen regulatory activity shares molecular weight, pI, and hydrophobic and affinity characteristics with immune interferon (IFN-gamma). Antiserum to mouse IFN-gamma neutralized both the macrophage Ia antigen regulatory and IFN-gamma bioactivities of the Con A supernatant. Furthermore, both partially purified murine IFN-gamma (10(7) U/mg protein sp act) and IFN-containing culture supernatants of the murine BFS T cell line-induced macrophage Ia antigen expression in vitro. Culture supernatants containing colony-stimulating factor, interleukin 1, interleukin 2, macrophage migration inhibitory factor, and a macrophage-activating activity that were distinct from IFN-gamma did not induce macrophage Ia antigen expression. Taken together, the data indicate that the in vitro expression of Ia antigens on macrophages is regulated by an activity that has the characteristics of interferon.

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