A mouse monoclonal antibody (IgM) was obtained by cell hybridization between X63-Ag8.653 myeloma cells and spleen cells from a BALB mouse that was immunized with GRSL leukemia cells of the GR strain. This antibody identified a unique fetal antigen, which is expressed exclusively on embryonic thymocytes of all strains tested. Therefore, the antigen defined was named fetal thymus antigen-1, FT-1. The proportion of FT-1+ fetal thymocytes detected by immunofluorescence assay sharply decreases as gestation time increases, and finally they disappear from the thymus. On the other hand, Thy-1+ cells increase in inverse proportion. The immunofluorescence studies and absorption tests showed that FT-1 antigen is not detectable on brain, liver, kidney, or lymphoid tissue cells of adult mice. However, it is expressed on some leukemia cells of various mouse strains, which demonstrated that this is the first example of an oncofetal antigen of a mouse leukemia. The molecular weight of FT-1 antigen on leukemia cells was estimated to be 130,000 by means of biosynthetic labeling with [3H]galactose and [35S]methionine. The two-dimensional gel electrophoresis pattern of FT-1 antigen shows a family of glycoproteins with extensive charge heterogeneity. It was also shown that the FT-1 antigen molecule carries the receptor for DBA lectin.

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