Immortalization of human T lymphocytes after transfection of Epstein-Barr virus DNA

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Science  29 Aug 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4767, pp. 980-984
DOI: 10.1126/science.3016899


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a ubiquitous human herpesvirus, has the ability to transform human B lymphocytes. No other cell type has been experimentally transformed by EBV, either by intact virions or naked viral DNA and subgenomic fragments. Two immortalized human T-lymphoblastoid cell lines have now been established by transfecting cord blood lymphocytes with purified B95-8 viral DNA enclosed in fusogenic Sendai virus envelopes (RSVE) and then exposing the cells to EBV from a P3HR-1 cell subclone. One of these lines, which has been fully characterized, is termed HBD-1. This line is positive for EBV DNA and expresses surface OKT11, OKT4, and Tac receptors, but not M-1, mu immunoglobulin chains, EBV receptors, or B-1 surface markers. The cells contain fully rearranged T-cell receptor genes and germline immunoglobulin genes. The karyotype of the cells is normal, they do not require interleukin-2 for growth, and do not contain human T-lymphotropic virus type I. However, the HBD-1 cells contain incomplete EBV genomes and express several EBV-determined antigens, including the early antigen type D, membrane antigens, but not EBV-determined nuclear antigen (EBNA). This association of the EBV genome with permanently growing hematopoietic cells of non B-cell lineage should prove useful in studies on the mechanism of EBV-mediated cell transformation.