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Immunity. 2000 Oct;13(4):497-506.

The expression pattern of Epstein-Barr virus latent genes in vivo is dependent upon the differentiation stage of the infected B cell.

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Department of Pathology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus-infected B cells in vivo demonstrate three distinct patterns of latent gene expression, depending on the differentiation stage of the cell. Tonsillar naive B cells express the EBNA2-dependent lymphoblastoid phenotype, characteristic of direct infection. Germinal center centroblasts and centrocytes as well as tonsillar memory B cells express a more restricted pattern of latent genes (EBNA1(Q-K)+, LMP1+, LMP2+, EBNA2-) that has only been seen previously in EBV-positive tumors. Peripheral memory cells express an even more restricted pattern where no latent genes are expressed, with the possible exception of LMP2. These results are consistent with a model where EBV uses the normal biology of B lymphocytes to gain access to and persist within the long-lived memory B cell compartment.

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