Three transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus-specific T helper (Th) cell hybridomas have been generated from virus-primed BALB/c mice, by fusion with the thymoma BW5147. The hybridomas responded to purified u.v.-inactivated TGE virus with interleukin production and growth inhibition. TGE virus recognition by the hybridomas was restricted by the major histocompatibility complex: only splenocytes from syngeneic or semi-syngeneic mice were able to recognize the antigen. The three hybridomas were Thy 1.2, but did not express detectable levels of Lyt 1 or Lyt 2 antigens by fluorescent cell sorting analysis. Only one hybridoma (T. 1J. B5) expressed the L3T4 marker. These hybridomas had helper activity, as they were able to reconstitute the synthesis of TGE virus-specific antibodies by Th cell-depleted spleen cells from immune BALB/c mice. The antibodies that they induced specifically neutralized by 10- to 10-fold the infectivity of TGE virus, ruling out the possibility of inhibition of virus replication by interferon. These hybridomas could be very useful for identifying antigenic domains in TGE virus recognized by Th cells, which cooperate with B cells in the synthesis of neutralizing antibodies.


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