Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-negative B-lymphoma cell lines for clonal isolation and replication of EBV recombinants.


Previous experiments have demonstrated that positive selection markers recombined into the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genome enable the isolation of transforming or nontransforming mutant EBV recombinants in EBV-negative B-lymphoma (BL) cell lines (A. Marchini, J. I. Cohen, and E. Kieff, J. Virol. 66:3214-3219, 1992; F. Wang, A. Marchini, and E. Kieff, J. Virol. 65:1701-1709, 1991). However, virus has been recovered from a BL cell clone (BL41) infected with an EBV recombinant in only one instance (Wang et al., J. Virol. 65:1701-1709, 1991). We now compare the utility of four EBV-negative BL lines, BJAB, BL30, BL41, and Loukes, for isolating EBV recombinants and supporting their subsequent replication. Transforming or nontransforming EBV recombinants carrying a simian virus 40 promoter-hygromycin phosphotransferase (HYG) cassette were cloned by selecting newly infected BL cells for HYG expression. Most of the infected BL clones contained EBV episomes, and EBV gene expression was largely restricted to EBNA-1. Although the BJAB cell line was a particularly good host for isolating EBV recombinants (Marchini et al., J. Virol. 66:3214-3219, 1992), it was largely nonpermissive for virus replication, even in response to heterologous expression of the BZLF1 immediate-early transactivator. In contrast, approximately 50% of infected BL41, BL30, or Loukes cell clones responded to lytic cycle induction. Frequently, a substantial fraction of infected cells expressed the late lytic infection viral protein, gp350/220, and released infectious virus. Since BL cells do not depend on EBV for growth, transforming and nontransforming EBV recombinants were isolated and passaged.

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