X-irradiation of C57BL/6 mice induces thymic lymphosarcomas which sometimes contain retroviruses which upon injection into normal mice mimic the effect of the irradiation. We examined whether specific antigenicities, viral or cellular, were expressed by tumour cells that could be recognized by antibodies from the irradiated animals. We developed monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) using splenocytes of the diseased animal. The reactivity of such MAbs towards thymoma cell lines established was investigated by means of an ELISA. At least 10 antibody specificities were detected on the 13 tumours investigated, allowing separation of the MAbs into three classes: (i) those recognizing the autologous tumour, heterologous tumours as well as normal thymic tissue, (ii) those specific for the autologous tumour, and (iii) those specific for one tumour, but not ones of autologous origin. The last two classes corresponded to specific tumour-associated antigens. Our panel of MAbs defined each tumour by the particular pattern of antigens harboured. It is striking that most of the antigens were present in the normal thymus and that only two tumours had additional antigenicities. Additionally, quantitative variations were observed in the levels of expression of these antigens.


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