The accelerated autoimmune syndrome observed in BXSB/MpJ male mice is associated with the presence on the Y chromosome of an as yet unidentified mutant gene, designated Y chromosome-linked autoimmune acceleration (Yaa). To study the mechanisms by which the Yaa gene accelerates and/or induces the production of autoantibodies, we have developed double-congenic bone marrow chimeras containing B cells from autoimmune males carrying the Yaa gene, and from nonautoimmune male or female mice lacking it and differing by the Igh allotype. The analysis of the allotype of total immunoglobulins and anti-DNA antibodies in Yaa+ male-normal female (Yaa-) chimeric mice revealed that the selective activation of B cells from autoimmune Yaa+ male mice was responsible for the hypergammaglobulinemia and autoantibody production. This phenomenon was not due to an anti-HY interaction between female T helper cells and male B cells, because first, Yaa+ B cells were selectively stimulated to produce autoantibodies in Yaa+ male-Yaa- male chimeric mice; and second, normal male and female chimeras failed to develop an autoimmune syndrome. In addition, the fact that both B cell populations in Yaa(+)-Yaa- chimeras similarly responded to a foreign antigen, human IgG, argues against the possibility that the selective activation of Yaa+ B cells may be due to their hyper-responsiveness to T helper signals. We propose that a cognate interaction of T helper cells with Yaa+ B cells, because of possible T cell recognition of a Yaa-related molecule expressed on Yaa+ B cells, may be responsible for the acceleration and/or induction of autoantibodies in BXSB/MpJ mice.

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