The ability of two cloned T cell hybridomas and their products to specifically suppress the in vitro plaque-forming cell (PFC) response to the 4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl acetyl hapten (NP) was studied. Supernatant from one hybridoma (TS1) was shown to suppress in the induction but not the effector phase of the immune response. Supernatant from the TS1 hybridoma was capable of inducing second-order (TS2) effector-phase suppressor cells in vitro but did not suppress the response of anti-I-J plus C-treated responder cells. In contrast, supernatant from a second hybridoma (TS3) was capable of suppressing PFC responses when added either in the induction or the effector phase of the response. TS3 supernatant was unable to induce effector-phase suppressor cells but was capable of suppressing the response of anti-I-J plus C-treated responder cells. In addition, specific suppressor factors isolated from supernatants of the TS1 and TS3 hybridomas were shown to bind to NP, bear NPb idiotypic and I-J-encoded but not immunoglobulin-constant region determinants. The factor secreted by the TS3 hybridoma appears to act directly on B cell targets. Mild reduction of this factor results in two separable moieties, only one of which binds NP. Reconstitution experiments suggest that both chains are required for function. The collective data indicate that these hybridomas represent cells from first- and third-order suppressor T cell populations described previously in contact sensitivity and in vitro PFC systems. The implications of the ability of these hybridoma products to affect both T and B cell-mediated immune responses are discussed.

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