Generation of anti-sheep erythrocyte plaque-forming cells (PFC) is greatly reduced in the presence of monoclonal Ly-5 alloantibody. Although Ly-5 is expressed in one of its molecular forms on T cells and macrophages (M phi ) involved in this response, the only demonstrated action of Ly-5 antibody was on B cells. Evidence from elimination of Lyt-2+ cells, and from the responses of serial proportions of Ly-5.1 and Ly-5.2 cells and of Ly-5 heterozygous cells, signifies that PFC reduction cannot be ascribed to any known mechanism of suppression or to a direct suppressive action of Ly-5 antibody on B cells. A critical distinction of Ly-5 from Lyb-2 is that Ly-5 antibody reduces PFC generation to trinitrophenylated Ficoll, a thymus-independent type 2 antigen requiring T cells and M phi for maximal PFC generation in vitro. A second distinction is that PFC reduction by Ly-5 antibody is strictly tied to the time of operation of M phi factor, whereas PFC reduction by Lyb-2 antibody relates to the time of B cell triggering by antigen. Accordingly, M phi factor competitively and quantitatively inhibits the action of Ly-5 antibody in reducing PFC generation. It is likely that the Ly-5 system is concerned in the reception or handling of M phi message by B cells.

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