The antiserum (B6 X A-Tlab) anti-A (Tlaa) defines several TL antigens expressed exclusively on thymocytes. When reacted with peripheral lymphocytes, the same antiserum defines another antigenic system, provisionally termed Qa-1. The genotypic disparity distinguishing the recipients and donors in this immunization comprises a section of chromosome 17 extending from a crossover point between H-2D and Tla to a presently unmarked point beyond Tla. Therefore although Qa-1 may constitute a single cell surface component, it is equally probable that the Qa-1 system defines two or more cell surface components determined by genes in this region, each of which may be expressed on a different cell set. Cytotoxicity assays indicate that Qa-1 antigen is expressed on Lyt-1 cells and Lyt-123 cells, and may serve to subclassify these two cell sets; it is not known whether Qa-1+ cells may occur within the small Lyt-23 set. There may be also be a cell set with the phenotype Thy-1--:Qa-1+. Another distinctive feature of the Qa-1 system is the characteristic profile of responses to mitogens exhibited by spleen cell populations from which Qa-1+ cells have been eliminated; in conventional assay of [3H]thymidine incorporation the response to lipopolysaccharide was essentially unchanged, the response to phytohemagglutinin M (PHA-M) was virtually abolished, and the response to concanavalin A (Con A) was reduced by 40%. The third distinctive feature of the Qa-1 system is the characteristic profile of changes which elimination of Qa-1+ cells produces in tests of immune function in vitro: (a) proliferation, measured by [3H]thymidine incorporation, in mixed lymphocyte culture (MLC) with major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-incompatible stimulator cells, was not affected. (b) in tests of cell-mediated cytotoxicity (CMC) of MHC-incompatible target cells, neither the generation nor the effector functions of cytotoxic lymphocytes was affected, implying that Lyt-23 prekiller and killer cells are Qa-1--. (c) primary and secondary responses to SRBC were considerably augmented, suggesting that Qa-1+ cells may be responsible for suppression in this test system. (d) accordingly the suppression of the anti-sheep erythrocyte (SRBC) response normally engendered in spleen cells by culture with SRBC was profoundly reduced by elimination of Qa-1+ cells, either before or after culture. (e) the suppression of the anti-SRBC response normally engendered in spleen cells cultured with Con A was reduced by removal of Qa-1+ cells before but not after culture with Con A. Although analysis is as yet far from complete, the Qa-1 system should already be of considerable value because it distinguishes a population of lymphocytes that is not defined by any other antigenic system, according to three criteria: (a) representation of Qa-1 cells among T-cell sets defined by Lyt phenotypes, (b) the profile of responses to mitogens exhibited by lymphocyte populations depleted of Qa-1+ cells, and (c) the profile of immune responses of lymphocyte populations depleted of Qa-1+ cells.

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