To study the role of class II MHC expression in mouse lymphomagenesis, we examined the cell surface expression of I-A/E antigens on 24 spontaneous or murine leukemia virus (MuLV)-induced mouse B10.A (I-Ak, I-Ek) B cell lymphomas. Two primary B10.A B cell lymphomas were observed with strong I-Ek expression but with only minimal cell surface I-Ak expression. Both tumors are readily transplantable in syngeneic mice, with maintenance of their I-A-, I-E+ phenotype. Strikingly, one I-A-, I-E+ B cell lymphoma contains a (11; 17) translocation with a breakpoint on chromosome 17 that is localized within or very close to the H-2 complex. DNA of both tumors contains normal restriction enzyme fragments of the A alpha and A beta genes. Northern blot analyses indicated that one I-A-, I-E+ tumor strongly expressed A alpha, E alpha, and E beta mRNAs but possessed only a weak expression of A beta mRNA. The other B cell lymphoma showed A beta, E alpha, and E beta mRNA expression but only minimal A alpha mRNA expression. In 11 primary B10.A B cell lymphomas with a normal I-A+, I-E+ phenotype, no imbalances in A alpha/A beta mRNA levels were observed. The implications of these findings for the role of class II MHC expression in mouse B cell lymphoma-genesis are discussed.

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