Resting B lymphocytes are activated, proliferate, and differentiate into antibody-secreting cells when cultured with long-term lines of major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-restricted, antigen-specific T cell in the presence of the antigen for which the T cells are specific. Under optimal conditions, essentially all B cells are activated and approximately 35% enter S phase in the absence of antigens for which the B cells are specific. Activation and proliferation are observed in cells from both normal mice and mice with the xid-determined immune defect. Highly purified B cells bearing Ia molecules for which the T cells are "cospecific" can present antigen to T cells with the resulting T cell stimulation leading to the activation and proliferation of the antigen-presenting B cells. However, B cells that do not bear Ia molecules for which the T cells are cospecific are also activated and proliferate if antigen and a source of antigen-presenting B cells or macrophage-rich cells of proper histocompatibility type are present. Thus, resting B cells, both normal and "xid", can be activated by non-MHC restricted factors without receptor cross-linkage. Experiments are presented that support the concept that local production and action of such unrestricted activating factors may be responsible for the MHC-restriction of T cell-B cell interaction seen in many circumstances.

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