Alloreactive and soluble antigen-reactive, I-A-restricted T cell clones were examined for their ability to recognize hybrid I-A antigens. Several clones that recognized hybrid I-A(b)/I-A(k) molecules on (C57BL/6 x A/J)F(1) [(B6A)F(1)] spleen cells were studied. We were able to distinguish clones that recognized hybrid I-A molecules of the A(b)(a)A(k)(β) type from those that recognized A(k)(a)A(b)(β) molecules. We reached this conclusion by considering data from three independent types of experiments. (a) Monoclonal antibodies were used to inhibit T cell stimulation. Antibodies 10.2.16 and H116.32 distinguished two mutually exclusive "families" of T cell clones. One group of clones was inhibited by 10-2.16 and not H116.32, the other group exhibited reciprocal inhibition. (b) T cell proliferation was assayed using antigen-presenting cells from B6.C-H-2(bml2) (bml2) and [bml2 × B10.A(4R)]F(1) mice. Because the bml2 strain has a mutation that results in an altered A(b)(β) polypeptide chain (A(bm12)(β)), we reasoned that clones that could recognize the [bm12 × B 10.A(4R)]F(1) cells were recognizing A(b)(a)A(k)(β) molecules. Alternatively, clones not recognizing [bml2 × B10.A(4R)]F(1) cells had specificity for A(k)(a)A(b)(β) molecules. (c) I-A molecules immunoprecipitated from radiolabeled (B6A)F(1) splenocyte extracts were analyzed by two-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. These experiments confirmed an earlier report that antibody 10.2.16 recognized determinants on the A(k)(β) chain (12). Antibody H116.32 immunoprecipitated products consistent with recognition of A(k)(a) determinants. Taken together, these three types of results offer conclusive evidence that T cell clones recognizing "hybrid" I-A molecules use either A(b(k)A(k)(β) or A(k)(a)A(b)(β) molecules as recognition or restriction sites. Clones whose proliferation was supported by [bm 12 x B10.A(4R)]F(1) cells and blocked by anti-I-A(k) antibody 10-2.16 recognized A(b)(a)A(k)(β) B molecules. Clones that were blocked by antibody H116.32 and did not recognize [bml2 X B10.A(4R)]F(1) cells use a recognition site(s) on A(b)(a)A(k)(β) molecules. Thus, we can demonstrate both functionally and biochemically that hybrid F(1) I-A molecules of the structure A(k)(a)A(b)(β) and A(b)(a)A(k)(β) both exist on (B6A)F(1) splenocytes and that both configurations are used in immune recognition phenomena.

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