The success of long-term culture of normal human and murine B cells has been hampered by the limited availability of soluble factors capable of maintaining proliferation of activated B lymphocytes. Previous experiments using various culture-derived supernatants in a human system were unable to separate the activities of B cell growth factor (BCGF) and interleukin 2 (IL-2) by immunochemical means. Thus, purified factors with BCGF activity in the absence of IL-2 activity have not been available for study. In the present study, normal human peripheral blood T cells were fused with the hypoxanthine/aminopterin/thymidine-sensitive human T-leukemic cell line, CEM-6. Supernatants from the resulting hybrid cells were tested for the ability to maintain proliferation of normal human B cells in a recently described assay system for human BCGF. Hybrids demonstrating BCGF activity were cloned by limiting dilution. One hybrid clone, 2B11, continued to support proliferation of B cells in both long-term cultures and 6-d assays at a level significantly above that seen with conventionally produced growth factors. No IL-2 activity was found in the supernatant from hybrid 2B11. The hybridoma supernatant was fractionated by gel filtration, and maximum proliferation of B cells was supported by the 18-20,000 mol wt protein fraction. Thus, a human T-T cell hybridoma that has BCGF activity in the absence of any demonstrable IL-2 activity has been developed. Human T-T cell hybridomas secreting discrete immunoregulatory factors should prove to be powerful tools in dissecting the mechanisms of immunoregulation of human lymphocyte function.

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