Early events in Epstein-Barr virus infection of human B lymphocytes

Caroline Alfieri, Mark Birkenbach, Elliott Kieff

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250 Scopus citations


The sequence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and B lymphocyte changes in the 3 days following acute infection was analyzed. By 16 hr the average infected lymphocyte had 1 EBV episome. Nuclear protein-2 (EBNA-2) and EBNA-leader protein (-LP) were detected by 12 hr, and by 32 hr were at the levels of stable EBV infection in lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). At 12 hr, all EBNA-LP and EBNA-2 RNAs were initiated from the Pw promoter. By 36 hr a significant EBNA-LP and EBNA-2 RNA fraction initiated from the upstream Pc promoter. Throughout acute infection, a similar fraction of potentially bicistronic EBNA-LP mRNAs had first exon splices which would result in EBNA-LP translation. By 36 hr c-myc RNA was transiently induced, and CD21 and CD23 RNAs were beginning to increase. This coincided with low-level EBNA-1, EBNA-3A, B, and C, and latent membrane protein-1 (LMP-1) expression. By 46 hr, EBNA-1, the EBNA-3s, and LMP-1 were near the levels ordinarily found in LCLs and a substantial fraction of lymphocytes were in S phase. These results are compatible with a key role for EBNA-2 (or EBNA-LP) in regulating virus and cell gene expression. High-level expression of the EBV-encoded small RNAs, EBERs, was delayed beyond 36 hr and may, therefore, be activated by other virus or cell genes. A 65-kDa virion protein persisted in acutely infected cells. This protein could be a mediator of virus or cell gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-608
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Fred Wang, David Liebowitz, Kenzo Takada, Alan Rickinson, and Gary Pearson contributed advice and reagents . This research was supported by Research Grant CA47006 from the National Cancer Institute of the U.S. Public Health Service. Elliott Kieff is partially supported by a gift to Harvard Medical School from the Baxter Foundation . Mark Birkenbach is supported bya Physician Scientist Award 5K11CA01341-03 from the NCI, USPHS . Carolina Alfieri was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the FRSQ, Quebec, Canada .


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