The Ts3 subset of suppressor cells is generated after antigen priming, but, in order to express suppressor activity these cells require an additional activation step involving triggering with specific suppressor factors (TsF2). This report characterizes two cloned hybridoma cell lines (pTs3 hybridomas) that represent this stage of Ts3 cell differentiation. These hybridoma cells could be specifically activated with TsF2 to release another antigen-specific suppressor factor (TsF3) within 6 h. The inducible feature of these cells permitted analysis of the signals necessary for Ts3 activation. Antigen was not required for activation. Only TsF2 factors derived from antiidiotypic second-order suppressor cells could activate pTs3 hybridoma cells. There were stringent genetic restrictions on the ability of Ts2 to activate pTs3 cells. Triggering of pTs3 required corecognition of two determinants on the TsF2 molecular complex, i.e., the I-J and Igh-related idiotypic determinants. Thus, although pTs3 cells could absorb TsF2 from an I-J-mismatched source, these pTs3 were not activated by the allogeneic TsF2. For activation to occur, the H-2 (I-J) and Igh complexes of the TsF2 donor had to match those of the strain from which the pTs3 cells were derived. Mixing two distinct TsF2, one derived from an H-2-matched source and the other from an Igh-matched source, failed to activate pTs3 cells. Once activated, the pTs3 cells released a suppressive material that was indistinguishable from the TsF3 factors previously characterized in this system. Finally, the activation of the pTs3 cells apparently does not induce the de novo synthesis of TsF3 since the suppressive activity could be extracted from nonactivated pTs3 cells. Thus, the inducible pTs3 hybridomas represent a mature stage in the differentiation cycle of Ts3 cells and provide a means for studying the nature of the specific signals required for Ts3 activation.

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