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EMBO J. 1993 Aug;12(8):3277-86.

Latent Marek's disease virus can be activated from its chromosomally integrated state in herpesvirus-transformed lymphoma cells.

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Institut für Klinische Molekularbiologie und Tumorgenetik, GSF-Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit, GmbH, München, Germany.


Marek's disease virus (MDV), a lymphotropic herpesvirus, induces T-cell lymphomas in chicken, its natural host. The lymphoma cells are latently infected with MDV but the viral contribution to the transformed phenotype is not understood. To investigate the virus-cell interaction, we focused on the status of MDV in the transformed cells. By the use of highly sensitive fluorescent in situ hybridization with metaphase chromosomes, we found (i) MDV DNA to be randomly integrated at multiple sites in the chromosomes of primary lymphoma cells from chicken tissues; (ii) extrachromosomal, circular MDV genomes were absent and linear virion DNA was usually not detectable in the latently infected lymphoma cells; (iii) the pattern of integration sites revealed the clonal origin of the tumour cells; which (iv) was retained in in vitro established cell lines derived from primary lymphomas; (v) activation of the lytic phase of MDV's life cycle occurred in vitro suggesting that MDV can escape from its integrated status by an unknown mechanism.

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