We have made use of T cell receptor (TCR)-transgenic mice with CD4+ T cells expressing a receptor specific for the self-antigen C5 (fifth component of complement) to study the role of different antigen-presenting cells in the determination of CD4+ T cell effector type. Contact of T cells from C5 TCR-transgenic mice with C5 protein or C5 peptide in vivo or in vitro induces biased T helper cell (Th) 1 type responses resulting in exclusive production of high levels of interferon gamma and interleukin (IL) 2. Transgenic mice, in contrast to nontransgenic littermates, do not generate an antibody response to C5. We show in this paper that B cell presentation in vitro induces a switch to the Th2 subset indicated by production of IL-4, and targetting C5 to B cells in vivo results in the generation of C5-specific antibodies.

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