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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Three pathways of Epstein-Barr virus gene activation from EBNA1-positive latency in B lymphocytes.

Previous studies on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive B-cell lines have identified two distinct forms of virus latency. Lymphoblastoid cell lines generated by virus-induced transformation of normal B cells in vitro, express the full spectrum of six EBNAs and three latent membrane proteins (LMP1, LMP2A, and LMP2B); furthermore, these lines often contain a small fraction of cells spontaneously entering the lytic cycle. In contrast, Burkitt's lymphoma-derived cell lines retaining the tumor biopsy cell phenotype express only one of the latent proteins, the nuclear antigen EBNA1; such cells do not enter the lytic cycle spontaneously but may be induced to do so by treatment with such agents as tetradecanoyl phorbol acetate and anti-immunoglobulin. The present study set out to determine whether activation of full virus latent-gene expression was a necessary accompaniment to induction of the lytic cycle in Burkitt's lymphoma lines. Detailed analysis of Burkitt's lymphoma lines responding to anti-immunoglobulin treatment revealed three response pathways of EBV gene activation from EBNA1-positive latency. A first, rapid response pathway involves direct entry of cells into the lytic cycle without broadening of the pattern of latent gene expression; thereafter, the three "latent" LMPs are expressed as early lytic cycle antigens. A second, delayed response pathway in another cell subpopulation involves the activation of full latent gene expression and conversion to a lymphoblastoidlike cell phenotype. A third response pathway in yet another subpopulation involves the selective activation of LMPs, with no induction of the lytic cycle and with EBNA expression still restricted to EBNA1; this type of latent infection in B lymphocytes has hitherto not been described. Interestingly, the EBNA1+ LMP+ cells displayed some but not all of the phenotypic changes normally induced by LMP1 expression in a B-cell environment. These studies highlight the existence of four different types of EBV infection in B cells, including three distinct forms of latency, which we now term latency I, latency II, and latency III.[1]


  1. Three pathways of Epstein-Barr virus gene activation from EBNA1-positive latency in B lymphocytes. Rowe, M., Lear, A.L., Croom-Carter, D., Davies, A.H., Rickinson, A.B. J. Virol. (1992) [Pubmed]
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