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Cell. 1987 Apr 24;49(2):161-70.

Pathogenesis of Burkitt lymphoma: expression of an activated c-myc oncogene causes the tumorigenic conversion of EBV-infected human B lymphoblasts.


To study the pathogenesis of Burkitt lymphoma, we introduced activated c-myc genes into human EBV-infected lymphoblastoid cells derived from in vitro infection of normal cord blood or directly from infected peripheral blood from AIDS patients. In both cell types the constitutive expression of exogenous c-myc caused negative regulation of endogenous c-myc expression, changes in growth properties typical of transformed cells, and acquisition of tumorigenicity in immunodeficient mice. In all myc-transfected populations the degree of malignancy directly correlated with the level of c-myc mRNA. EBV infection and c-myc activation are thus sufficient for the tumorigenic conversion of human B cells in vitro, strongly supporting the hypothesis that these same two pathogenetic steps may be involved in the in vivo development of Burkitt lymphoma.

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