We have fused an H-2- thymoma (BM5R.9) with an H-2+ thymoma (BW5147) and have found that many of the resulting hybrids exhibit an H-2- phenotype. In several hybrids that were analyzed in detail, this phenotype is related to the absence of steady-state H-2 mRNA and shows some instability, possibly related to the loss of chromosomes in segregants. We conclude from our studies that BM5R.9 cells display a trans-acting mechanism that can repress the expression of H-2 antigens, and that the gene(s) causing the repression are not located on chromosome 17. This mechanism is not sufficient to explain the H-2- phenotype of BM5R.9, for which an additional, cis-acting process, must be postulated. We discuss these results in the context of the regulation of expression of the major class I transplantation antigens.

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