1. Major histocompatibility complex class II antigens have the central role in the immune response of ‘presenting’ antigenic peptide to CD4+ T-cells. This interaction with a T-cell's receptor may result in activation, but, if recognition occurs without collateral molecular interactions which cause ‘co-stimulation’, these T-cells will be tolerized.
2. In the light of current interest in muscle cell transplantation, a transformed myoblast, TE671, phenotypically comparable to untransformed cells, transfected to express class II, was studied as a stable model of antigen presentation by muscle cells. These cells failed to activate T-cells but induced tolerance.
3. The DRα chain is unusual being the only non-polymorphic classical class II polypeptide, raising the question of its functional contribution. To this end, several single polypeptide constructs were generated with contributions from different class II α-chains. On this basis, it was established that DRα makes significant contributions to peptide binding and that its α2 domain is also important in T-cell recognition, possibly through CD4 binding.
4. One implication of the lack of polymorphism of DRα may be that it has a wider range of pairing partners, possibly including β chains of different isotypes. To address this, it is planned to use transfectants expressing only a mixed isotype pair to generate T-cell clones in vitro. These reagents would be useful tools to detect whether such mixed pairs exist physiologically. In this paper, the development of a system is described which will allow this question to be addressed.