Spleen cell cultures derived from animals infected 6 d earlier with Listeria monocytogenes produced 10-20-fold more murine interferon gamma (MuIFN gamma) than spleen cells from nonimmune mice in response to stimulation with T cell mitogens. A striking temporal association was found between the enhanced synthesis of MuIFN gamma and the development of anti-Listeria immunity in that both the potential for increased MuIFN gamma production and the generation of Listeria-protective T cells developed and then decayed in unison. Treatment of spleen cells with monoclonal anti-Thy-1.2 plus complement virtually abolished the ability of cells from Listeria-immune mice to synthesize MuIFN gamma. The T cells producing MuIFN gamma were found to be more susceptible to complement-mediated lysis with monoclonal anti-Lyt-1.2 than with monoclonal anti-Lyt-2.2. The production of MuIFN gamma was not affected by treating spleen cells with anti-IgG antisera or with a monoclonal antibody directed against I-A specificities. MuIFN gamma was detected 4 h after the beginning of mitogenic stimulation of spleen cell cultures, and peak levels of MuIFN gamma were reached by 18 h. The IFN synthesized by mitogen-induced spleen cells derived from Listeria-immune mice were relatively labile at pH 2.0 and neutralized by a rabbit anti-MuIFN gamma serum but not by an antiserum having specificities for MuIFN alpha and MuIFN beta. The apparent molecular weight of the MuIFN gamma, as estimated by molecular sieving on a Bio-gel P-60 column, was estimated to be 38,000, and the isoelectric point as determined by chromatofocusing was extremely heterogeneous, ranging between pH 5.0 and pH 7.0.

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