Recently, independent lines of evidence strongly suggested that peptides derived from one foreign major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule bound to another MHC molecule can give rise to multiple composite MHC complexes that are able to stimulate allo-(xeno)-reactive T cells. In this study, we describe that in vivo immunization of mice with cells mismatched with the recipient for a single class I antigen results in the induction of CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) specific for allogeneic class I locus products (Dd, Kd, Dq) in the context of other class I molecules (Ks, Kd, Kk) present on stimulator cells. Evidently, the target antigen for these class I-restricted alloreactive CTL is not the native class I molecule but peptides derived from endogenous processing of allogeneic class I products presented by class I molecules. Using a combination of limiting dilution and split-well analyses, we estimated for Kk-restricted Dq-specific alloreactive CTL a precursor frequency (CTLpf) that was approximately 10 times lower than the CTLpf for "classical" nonrestricted Dq-specific alloreactive CTL. These data suggest that H-2 class I peptides presented by intact H-2 class I molecules are allostimulatory, supporting the concept that the capacity for presentation of MHC peptides by MHC molecules constitutes a part of the allogeneic immune response.

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