Immunogenicity for T cell-independent B-cell response assessed by splenic plaque-forming cell (PFC) response and cell-surface expression measured by laser flow cytometry of various class I H-2 antigens on mouse red blood cells (RBC) were compared. It was found that the order of magnitude of both immunogenicity and cell-surface expression on RBC is H-2Dd ≫ H-2Db > H-2Kd, H-2Kb. Furthermore, H-2d public antigens and H-2Ld antigens were neither immunogenic nor easily demonstrable on RBC. These findings contrasted with poor immunogenicity for PFC response (Nakashima et al. 1982, 1983) and proportionally strong expression of H-2 antigens on lymphoid cells. Immunogenicity and cell-surface expression of H-2Dd antigen on RBC were not shown to be controlled by the action of genes outside H-2D. It was therefore suggested that a number of H-2 antigens, including H-2Kd private, H-2Kb private, and H-2d public specificities are at least functionally defective on RBC. This is possibly due to the structural characteristics of the antigens. Since immunogenicity and cell-surface expression were in parallel, the expression of H-2 antigens on RBC must be dictated by a subset of B cells whose activity was assessed by PFC response. This finding supports the view that the H-2 molecules display a new category of activity which is different from their ability to activate T cells and depends on their expression on RBC.
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