The nature of the IgA B cell precursors that receive preferential help from selected clones of T helper cells from mouse Peyer's patches (PP Th A) were studied. Activation of the PP Th A clones required the presence of antigen, sheep erythrocytes (SRBC), in a culture system supporting development of antibody-secreting plasma cells. Two types of PP Th A cells were used. Both gave vigorous IgA responses; the first also supported low IgM, and the second low IgM and IgG subclass antibody responses. Removal of sIgA+ B cells from either splenic or PP B cell cultures selectively depleted precursors of IgA antibody producers. Cultures of purified sIgA+ B cells, cloned PP Th A cells and SRBC, selectively yielded IgA antibody producers. Finally, PP Th A cells did not support IgA responses in B cell cultures derived from spleens of young mice (days 1-25), and full IgA responses were not seen until the donor mice were 6-7 wk of age. These results suggest that cloned T helper cells can recognize and collaborate with mature, IgA committed B cells.

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