A quantitative study at the single cell level of immunoglobulin antigenic determinants present on the surface of murine B and T lymphocytes

Avrameas, S.; Hösli, P.; Stanislawski, M.; Rodrigot, M.; Vogt, E.

Journal of Immunology 122(2): 648-659


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-1767
PMID: 84031
Accession: 068520000

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An enzyme-immunoassay for the quantitation at the single cell level of immunoglobulin antigenic determinants present on the membrane of murine lymphocytes (MIg) was developed. This immunoassay makes use of specific Fab:anti-Ig, anti-.kappa., anti-.mu., and anti-.gamma. conjugated to Escherichia coli .beta.-galactosidase of high specific activity in conjunction with the micromanipulation of lymphocytes and the measurement of enzyme activity with the fluorogenic substrate 4-methylumbelliferyl-.beta.-D-galactopyranoside with a microassay system. With this technique MIg was detected and could be measured in substantial amounts on the surface of almost all splenic and lymph node lymphocytes examined. Depending on the specific Fab employed, 0 to more than 79,000 MIg per lymphocyte were measured, but a larger proportion of cells with higher amounts of MIg were found in spleen than in lymph nodes. When the same Fab were used to localize MIg by a conventional immunohistochemical staining, only a fraction of cells, corresponding to published values, could be scored as positive. MIg was associated with the vast majority of lymphoid cells. T [thymus-derived] cells probably carried such antigens. To investigate this further, experiments were performed on splenic B [bone marrow-derived] and T cell fractions obtained with an anti-Ig immunoadsorbent or after treatment with anti-.theta. serum plus complement. The B cell fraction possessed greater amounts of MIg (1500-79,000) than the T cell fraction (0-39,000). B cells carried only 2-2.5 times more .mu., .kappa. and .gamma. antigenic determinants than T cells. B cells carried a mean of 27,300-47,8000 Ig, 17,400-30,400 .kappa., 13,000-23,000 .mu. and 4200-7300 .gamma. antigenic determinants on their surface. T cells carried 4600-8000 Ig, 7200-12,600 .kappa., 5600-9800 .mu. and 2400-4200 .gamma. determinants. Immunoabsorbent column-fractionated T cells from which MIg was removed by anti-mouse Ig stripping could regenerate MIg after 24 h of culture. The quantities re-expressed were equal to those found on T cells before anti-Ig treatment. T cells may synthesize and express MIg. Irrespective of the molecular nature of the T cell structure detected in this study, the difficulty in detecting MIg by standard immunohistochemical staining methods may reflect differences in the membrane composition of B and T cells. Local concentrations of MIg on B cells could be higher than on T cells, or a microredistribution of MIg may be achieved more easily on B than on T cells. The T cell MIg may be conceived of as a molecule structurally different from the MIg on B cells.