The relationship between Ir genes and Ia antigens was studied in the T-cell proliferative responses to two synthetic polypeptides poly(glu40ala60) (GA) and poly(glu51lys34tyr15) (GLT15). The response to GA was found to be controlled by an Ir gene in the I-A subregion, whereas the anti-GLT15 response was shown to be under dual control, one Ir gene mapping probably in the I-A subregion, and the other in the I-E subregion. We obtained two different lines of evidence suggesting identity of Ir and Ia genes. First, the presence of certain serologically identified allelic forms of the I-A-encoded A molecule correlated with the responder status to GA both in inbred strains and in B10.W lines, the latter carrying wild-derived H-2 haplotypes. Thus the Ir and Ia phenotypes were not separable in strains of independent origin. Second, the anti-GA response was completely inhibited by monoclonal antibodies against determinants on the A molecule (Ia.8, 15, and 19), but not by a monoclonal antibody against a determinant on the E molecule (Ia.7). In contrast, the anti-GLT15 response was only inhibited by a monoclonal antibody against the E molecule, but not by antibodies against the A molecule. Our data support the hypothesis that Ia antigens, as restriction elements for T-cell recognition, may in fact be the phenotypic manifestation of Ir genes.
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