Mice lacking MHC class II molecules

Cell. 1991 Sep 6;66(5):1051-66. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(91)90448-8.


We have produced mice that lack major histocompatibility complex class II antigens, permitting us to evaluate the role of these molecules in diverse aspects of T and B cell differentiation. The mutant mice show near-complete elimination of CD4+ T lymphocytes from the spleen and lymph nodes; the few remaining CD4-positive cells are preferentially localized to B cell follicles. Surprisingly, substantial numbers of CD4 single-positive cells reside in the thymus; however, these are not mature thymocytes as we currently recognize them. B lymphocytes occur in normal numbers and are capable of terminal differentiation to plasma cells. Nevertheless, several aberrations in the B cell compartment are demonstrable: a lack of germinal centers, fewer IgM+IgD+ cells in certain individuals, reduced production of serum IgG1, and complete inability to respond to T-dependent antigens. In short, the class II-negative mice have confirmed some old ideas about lymphocyte differentiation, but have provided some surprises.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / analysis
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / physiology*
  • Homozygote
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains / immunology*
  • Receptors, Lymphocyte Homing / analysis
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology


  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD4 Antigens
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Receptors, Lymphocyte Homing