Guinea pig T lymphocyte responses to the octapeptide antigen angiotensin II (NH(2)-Asp(1)-Arg(2)-Val(3)-Tyr(4)-Ile(5)-His(6)-Pro(7)-Phe(8)-OH; AII) were examined using various synthetic peptide analogues and homologues. Each peptide antigen was assessed for immunogenicity and antigenicity in strain 2 and strain 13 guinea pigs as determined by in vitro T cell proliferative responses. The genetic control of T cell responses to these peptides was found to be highly specific and capable of distinguishing subtle differences in the antigens. For example, strain 2 guinea pigs responded to AII and were low responders to [Val(5)]-AII, whereas strain 13 animals responded to [Val(5)]-AII but not to AII. The genetic control in this case involved the difference of one methyl group between Val(5) and Ile(5). Differences in T cell responsiveness by strain 2 and strain 13 guinea pigs were also observed with analogues involving para substitutions on the phenyl ring of Tyr(4) and of Phe(8). However, the genetic regulation of T cell responses did not seem to be based on a single peptide residue. For example, removal of Asp(1) allowed strain 13 animals to respond to the Ile(5)-containing analogue, but eliminated responsiveness to the Val(5)-containing analogue. Thus, the first and fifth AII residues are both involved in the regulation of strain 13 T cell responses. Substitutions for Tyr(4) and Phe(8) suggested that the same residue may serve to alter the specificity of T cell responses in one strain, and determine responsiveness or unresponsiveness in the other strain. One of the most striking observations is that T cell responsiveness to the various AII analogues and homologues randomly fluctuates between strain 2 and strain 13 guinea pigs, and in general neither strain responds to the same peptide antigens. This suggests that strain 2 and strain 13 T cell responses are rarely directed against the same antigenic determinants, and that the T cell antigen-combining diversity is usually exclusive between these two strains. These results are discussed with respect to the specificity of Ir gene control and the relationship between Ir gene function and antigen recognition by T cells.
Note added in proof: More recent experiments using a new lot of [Val(5)]- AII have indicated that [Val(5)]-AII-immune strain 2 T cells show significant stimulation with AII but remain relatively low responders with [Val(5)]-AII, as shown in Table I. The difference in priming for cross-reactivity for AII with the different lots of [Val(5)]-AII is at present unknown.