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Int Immunol. 1992 Nov;4(11):1283-92.

Immune escape by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) carrying Burkitt's lymphoma: in vitro reconstitution of sensitivity to EBV-specific cytotoxic T cells.

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  • 1Department of Tumor Biology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) positive Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) cells are markedly less sensitive to EBV-specific cytotoxic T cell (CTL) recognition than EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines of normal B cell origin. Three features of the BL cell phenotype might contribute to this reduced susceptibility: (i) low expression of cell adhesion molecules, (ii) low expression of HLA class I and selective down-regulation of particular alleles, and (iii) down-regulation of all transformation-associated EBV antigens except EBV-encoded nuclear antigen (EBNA)-1. This study assesses the individual importance of each of these features for immune escape. For this purpose the WW1-BL cell line was used which expresses all the known transformation-associated EBV antigens (EBNA-1 to -6 and latent membrane protein-1 and -2) but which is negative for HLA A11 and for the adhesion molecule leukocyte function associated antigen-3 (LFA-3). Using recombinant vectors, these deficiencies have been sequentially corrected and the cells have been tested for sensitivity to EBV (B95.8 strain)-induced CTL preparations recognizing epitope(s) of EBNA-4 in the context of HLA A11. Expression of HLA A11 alone or in combination with LFA-3 did not sensitize WW1-BL cells to these effectors. Lysis was only achieved when HLA A11 was co-expressed with the B95.8 virus-encoded EBNA-4 protein, and in these circumstances sensitization did not require LFA-3. These results indicate that reconstitution of the relevant HLA-EBV epitope target complex on the cell membrane is sufficient to render BL cells sensitive to virus-specific cytolysis. The requirement for EBNA-4 reconstitution to achieve lysis of the WW1-BL/A11 transfectant suggested that the resident WW1 virus-encoded EBNA-4 protein did not contain the relevant target epitope for HLA A11-restricted recognition. This was confirmed by transferring the WW1 virus isolate into another A11-positive B cell background.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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