Rat T cells and thymocytes were induced to proliferate by a pair of mAbs, MRC OX-54 and MRC OX-55, directed against rat CD2. Accessory cells were required but their role was not simply for crosslinking of the two mAbs, as neither MRC OX-54 nor MRC OX-55 alone, in the presence of a crosslinking second antibody, caused T cell mitogenesis. Nor could the phorbol ester PMA replace either antibody. The two mAbs recognized distinct epitopes on rat CD2; however, MRC OX-54 could partially block MRC OX-55 binding whereas the reverse situation was not seen. A further CD2 epitope was recognized by two mutually competitive mAbs, MRC OX-34 and MRC OX-53, which were not mitogenic. Neither MRC OX-34 nor MRC OX-53 affected the binding of MRC OX-54 or MRC OX-55, yet they prevented the mitogenic effect induced by these mAbs. The presence of mAbs against CD4 and the IL-2-R also abrogated this mitogenesis, whereas an anti-CD5 mAb augmented the CD2-induced proliferation.

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