Antigenic requirements for inducing minor histocompatibility antigens (MIHA)-specific T cell immunity for second set rejection (SSR) of a MIHA-allogeneic tumor were studied. An intravenous injection of surprisingly small numbers (104-105) of live allogenetic spleen cells (SC) effectively primed mice for SSR of the allogeneic tumor, and this immunity was developed as early as 2-3 days after injection of the SC. In contrast, sonication-disrupted allogeneic SC, which should be readily processed by host antigen presenting cells (APC), were not active as immunogens, even at a dose 1000 times higher than the minimum effective dose of live SC. The possibility that host APC preferentially receive MIHA antigens shed by live allogeneic SC for T cell activation was ruled out. These results demonstrated that antigen processing via conventional pathways is very little involved in the mechanism of T cell activation. Under such restricted experimental conditions, the induction phase but not the effector phase of the MIHA-specific T cell immunity was shown to be H-2-unrestricted.
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