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Immunity. 2000 Oct;13(4):485-95.

EBV-infected B cells in infectious mononucleosis: viral strategies for spreading in the B cell compartment and establishing latency.

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Institute for Genetics and Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Cologne, Germany.


Infection of humans with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may cause infectious mononucleosis (IM). Analysis of single EBV-infected cells from tonsils of IM patients for rearranged immunoglobulin genes revealed two strategies of EBV for rapid and massive spread in the B cell compartment: the direct infection of many naive as well as memory and/or germinal center B cells and the expansion of the latter cells to large clones. In IM, the generation of virus-harboring memory B cells from naive B cells passing through a germinal center reaction likely plays no role. Members of clones can show distinct morphologies and likely also EBV gene expression patterns, and this ability implies a mechanism by which EBV-harboring cells can evade immune surveillance and establish a pool of persisting EBV-infected B cells.

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