Ontogeny of immunity in amphibians: Changes in antibody repertoires and appearance of adult major histocompatibility antigens in Xenopus



Larval Xenopus anti-2, 4-dinitrophenyl antibodies of the low-molecular weight type can be analyzed by isoelectric focusing (IEF). Within a clone of genetically identical animals, tadpoles make antibodies whose IEF spectrotypes are shared by most of the individuals. Adults of the same clone also make antibodies of identical spectrotype, but the adult pattern can be very different from the larval one, although both responses are heterogeneous. The larval spectrotypes that one cannot see in a primary adult response can be found if the adult has been primed during larval life and boosted after metamorphosis. The heterogeneity of the response is somewhat lower in tadpoles (up to 12 antibody IEF bands) than in adults (up to 20 antibody IEF bands). The change in the repertoire occurs during metamorphosis at the time of the appearance of two major histocompatibility complex antigens. One, a lymphocyte antigen, appears 10-15 days before the end of metamorphosis, the other, present on red cells (and presumably also on lymphocytes), appears 1.5 month after the end of metamorphosis, as determined by immunofluorescence analysis. During the same period, the syngeneic mixed leukocyte reaction switches from a larval anti-adult to an adult anti-larval reaction.