Monoclonal antibodies to I-Ak were injected into neonatal H-2k mice for a period of 3 wk. The spleens of such mice are devoid of Ia-positive cells. Allo- and trinitrophenyl (TNP)-self-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses in such anti-I-A-treated mice were almost completely abrogated at the end of the 2-3 wk in vivo treatment period. Development of suppressor cells, carry-over of blocking antibodies, lack of responder accessory cells, or defective CTL function were not responsible for the observed defect. As concanavalin A supernatant could restore the defect, it is more likely that the defect is due to the absence of competent Ia-specific T helper cells. In addition, anti-I-A-treated mice exhibit reduced I-A antigen expression in the thymus and defective Ia-bearing accessory cell function in the spleen. It is postulated that, for development of Ia-specific T cells to occur, precursor T cells need to interact with Ia-encoded products in the thymus, and anti-Ia treatment interferes with this process. Finally, the mechanism of this interference was shown to be due to actual removal or functional inactivation of those I-A-positive elements responsible for the education of I-A-recognizing T cells, since in (H-2b X H-2k)F1 mice, treatment with anti-I-Ak antibodies results in abrogation of CTL responses to TNP in association with both parental haplotypes, while in the thymus of these mice expression of both I-Ak and I-Ab was reduced.

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