To detect a strong cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response to minor histocompatibility (H) antigens in a 5-d mixed lymphocyte culture, it is necessary to use a responder that has been primed in vivo with antigen-bearing cells. It has previously been shown that minor-H-specific CTL can be primed in vivo both directly by foreign spleen cells and by presentation of foreign minor H antigens on host antigen-presenting cells. This latter route is evident in the phenomenon of cross-priming, in which H-2 heterozygous (A x B)F1 mice injected 2 wk previously with minor H-different H-2A (A') spleen cells generate both H-2A- and H-2B-restricted minor-H-specific CTL. In a study of the kinetics of direct- vs. cross-priming to minors in F1 mice, we have found that minor H-different T cells actually suppress the induction of virgin CTL capable of recognizing them. CTL activity measured from F1 mice 3-6 d after injection with viable A' spleen cells is largely H-2B restricted. The H-2A-restricted response recovers such that roughly equal A- and B-restricted activity is detected in mice as early as 8-10 d postinjection. This temporary hyporeactivity does not result from generalized immunosuppression--it is specific for those CTL that recognize the foreign minor H antigen in the context of the H-2 antigens on the injected spleen cells. The injected spleen cells that mediate this suppression are radiosensitive T cells; Lyt-2+ T cells are highly efficient at suppressing the induction of CTL in vivo. No graft vs. host reaction by the injected T cells appears to be required, as suppression of direct primed CTL can be mediated by spleen cells that are wholly tolerant of both host H-2 and minor H antigens. Suppression cannot be demonstrated by in vitro mixing experiments. Several possible mechanisms for haplotype-specific suppression are discussed, including inactivation of responding CTL by veto cells and in vivo sequestration of responding CTL by the injected spleen cells.

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