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J Exp Med. 1984 Nov 1;160(5):1316-37.

Membrane Ia expression and antigen-presenting accessory cell function of L cells transfected with class II major histocompatibility complex genes.


To study the relationship between the structure and function of Ia antigens, as well as the physiologic requirements for antigen presentation to major histocompatibility complex-restricted T cells, class II A alpha and A beta genes from the k and d haplotypes were transfected into Ltk- fibroblasts using the calcium phosphate coprecipitation technique. Individually transfected genes were actively transcribed in the L cells without covalent linkage to, or cotransformation with, viral enhancer sequences. However, cell surface expression of detectable I-A required the presence of transfected A alpha dA beta d or A alpha kA beta k pairs in a single cell. The level of I-A expression under these conditions was 1/5-1/10 that of Ia+ B lymphoma cells, or B lymphoma cells expressing transfected class II genes. These I-A-expressing transfectants were tested for accessory cell function and shown to present polypeptide and complex protein antigens to T cell clones and hybridomas in the context of the transfected gene products. One T cell clone, restricted to I-Ak plus GAT (L-glutamic acid60-L-alanine30-L-tyrosine10), had a profound cytotoxic effect on I-Ak- but not I-Ad-expressing transfectants in the presence of specific antigen. Assays of unprimed T cells showed that both Ia+ and Ia- L cells could serve as accessory cells for concanavalin A-induced proliferative responses. These data indicate that L cells can transcribe, translate, and express transfected class II genes and that such I-A-bearing L cells possess the necessary metabolic mechanisms for presenting these antigens to T lymphocytes in the context of their I-A molecules.

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