Hen egg white lysozyme (HEL)-specific T cell lines and clones were generated from B6 and BDF1 mice. A variety of clonotypes were found among clones generated at an early stage (1 month) whereas fewer clonotypes were detected after several weeks of culture. Furthermore, a bulk line switched from its initial fine peptide specificity pattern (positive for fragment L2 aa.13-105 - and negative for fragment NC - aa.1-17:Cys 6-Cys 127:120-129) to the opposite pattern (negative for L2 and positive for NC), indicating that in bulk lines, besides selection toward oligo- or monospecificity, clones previously silent can emerge after a period of time. Irrespective of early or late cloning, T cell clones could be isolated from three independent T cell lines from different mouse strains that were stimulated by either native or denatured HEL, but not both. Furthermore, 1 clone of 20 from a B6 line, 3 clones of 25 from a BDF1 line, and 1 T hybridoma clone of 10 of B 10.A origin lost their capacity to respond to native HEL, yet continued to respond to reduced, carboxymethylated HEL or cyanogen bromide-cleaved, unreduced HEL. These results suggest that T cells may produce activation signals for efficient processing of native antigen.
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