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Blood. 2005 Dec 15;106(13):4345-50. Epub 2005 Aug 30.

Transformation of BCR-deficient germinal-center B cells by EBV supports a major role of the virus in the pathogenesis of Hodgkin and posttransplantation lymphomas.

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  • 1Institute for Cell Biology (Tumor Research), University of Duisburg-Essen, Virchowstr. 173, 45122 Essen, Germany. doerte.bechtel@uni-duisburg-essen.de


In classic Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and posttransplantation lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD), 2 malignancies frequently associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the tumor cells often appear to derive from B-cell receptor (BCR)-deficient and therefore preapoptotic germinal center (GC) B cells. To test whether EBV can rescue BCR-less GC B cells, we infected human tonsillar CD77+ GC B cells in vitro with EBV. More than 60 monoclonal lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) were established. Among these, 28 cell lines did not express surface immunoglobulin (sIg). Two of the sIg-negative cell lines carry obviously destructive mutations that have been introduced into originally functional V(H) gene rearrangements during the process of somatic hypermutation. Quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) showed that in most other lines the sIg deficiency was not simply the result of transcriptional down-regulation, but it was rather due to posttranscriptional defects. These findings strongly support the idea that EBV plays a central role in the pathogenesis of classic HL and PTLD by rescuing BCR-deficient, preapoptotic GC B cells from apoptosis, and that EBV infection renders the cells independent from survival signals normally supplied by a BCR. The monoclonal LCLs represent valuable models for early stages of lymphoma development in classic HL and PTLD.

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