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Trends Microbiol. 2003 Jun;11(6):243-5.

Epstein-Barr virus and the B cell: a secret romance.

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Department of Pediatrics, University Medical School of Leipzig, Oststrasse 21- 25, D-04317 Leipzig, Germany.


Infection by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in immunocompetent individuals seems mainly confined to antigen-experienced memory B cells. However, a recent report shows that EBV(+) post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease might arise not only from memory B cells but also from nai;ve and germinal center (GC) B cells. Intriguingly, some of the EBV-positive B-cell clones seem to carry non-functional Ig-V-region genes as a result of deleterious somatic mutations acquired during the GC reaction. Given that such GC B cells are destined to die by apoptosis in the absence of EBV, these findings suggest that transformation by EBV might bypass negative selection of B cells within GCs.

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