The murine immune response to the male‐specific antigen mouse testicular cytochrome c

Gregory S. Kelner, Jeanne M. Minnerath, Marc K. Jenkins, Ronald Jemmerson

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Male and female A/J mice were examined for their ability to elicit T lymphocyte and antibody (Ab) responses to the male‐specific Ag, mouse testicular cytochrome c (Mt cyt).T lymphocytes from both male and female mice primed in vivo responded to the Ag in in vitro proliferation assays, and the dose‐response curves were statistically indistinguishable. In addition, similar levels of Ab to Mt cyt were observed in immunized male and female mice. The B cells producing the Ab had switched isotypes to IgG1 and IgG2a, indicating that the self‐reactive T helper (Th) cells in male mice were functional. Thus, male mice do not appear to be immunologically tolerant to Mt cyt, at least at the Th and B lymphocyte levels. No evidence for disease was found in male mice primed with Mt cyt. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II‐positive antigen‐presenting cells are present in the testes and these were shown in vitro to process and present Mt cyt to a Tcell hybridoma specific for the synthetic peptide Mt cyt 93‐104. However, the hybridoma was not activated in the absence of exogenous Mt cyt 93‐104 or Mt cyt, indicating that endogenous Mt cyt is not normally processed in sufficient quantity to effectively load MHC class II molecules with this particular Mt cyt‐derived peptide. Notwithstanding any immunologic privilege of the testes, the lack of tolerance to Mt cyt and its failure to elicit an autoimmune disease could extend from the low levels of processed Mt cyt Ag available for T cell recognition. The T cell response elicited by Mt cyt contrasts the lack of response to mouse somatic cytochrome c which differs from Mt cyt at 13 amino acid residues and is expressed in most tissues and at higher levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1992-1998
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1993


  • Self antigen
  • T cell response
  • Testicular cytochrome c
  • Tolerance


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