The T(c)-cell response to ectromelia virus infection was studied in BALB/c-H-2(db) mice which carry a loss mutation in the H-2D region that results in the absence from cell surfaces of a molecule (D') bearing certain public H-2 specificities. When infected, these mice showed a poor response of T(c) cells that recognize H-2D(d) plus virus-specific determinants on infected macrophage targets, but gave a normal response to H-2K d plus virus-specific antigens. However, their own infected macrophages do display wild-type antigenic patterns involving virus and H-2D(d) since they were killed as efficiently as wild-type (BALB/c,H- 2(d))-infected cells by T(c) cells specific only for H-2D(d) plus viral antigens. When tested in vitro, infected BALB/c-H-2(db) cells stimulated a poor T(c)-cell response to H-2D plus virus-specific antigens, but stimulated a normal response (in comparison with infected BALB/c macrophages) to H-2K(d) plus viral antigens. Uninfected BALB/c-H-2(db) cells stimulated a normal T(c)-cell response to minor H antigens or trinitrophenyl in association with H-2D(d), thus suggesting that the defective response to infection may reside in a failure of the relevant H-2D(d) antigens of mutant cells to physically associate with viral antigens. Close association of viral and H-2D-coded molecules was also suggested by ability of specific anti-H-2K or -H-2D to partially block T(c)-cell-mediated lysis of infected targets.
These results were interpreted to mean that H-2Dd-dependent, virus- immune T(c) cells recognized an antigenic pattern consisting of virus- specific and H-2D(d) determinants with the latter borne on an H-2D molecule carrying serologically-defined H-2D(d) private specificities. A second H-2D(d)-coded molecule (D') was not required for recognition and lysis by activated T(c) cells, but was apparently necessary for efficient stimulation of precursor T(c) cells, perhaps by promoting appropriate physical association of viral and H-2D(d) molecules.