Mus spretus from four stocks, originating in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, were tested for the maternally transmitted antigen, Mta. All expressed a variant form not found in other species of mice. Analysis of appropriate crosses with inbred mice showed that the spretus form of Mta is determined by a new allele, c, of the Hmt gene. The Hmtc allele has been isolated in coupling with four different H-2 haplotypes. It is possible to raise CTL specific for the spretus form of Mta. The maternally transmitted factor, Mtf alpha s, of spretus mice determines, in conjunction with the Hmta allele of C57BL/6, an Mta that is indistinguishable from the common form found in C57BL/6 and most other inbred mice. Our experiments show that the specificity of the cell surface antigen Mta is governed jointly by the cytoplasmic gene Mtf and the chromosomal gene Hmt. We propose that Hmt encodes a class I histocompatibility antigen that acts as a restricting element for the Mtf gene product, thus meeting the requirements of T killer cell recognition.

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