Epstein-Barr Virus Type 2 Infects T Cells and Induces B Cell Lymphomagenesis in Humanized Mice.

Academic Article


  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been classified into two strains, EBV type 1 (EBV-1) and EBV type 2 (EBV-2) based on genetic variances and differences in transforming capacity. EBV-1 readily transforms B cells in culture while EBV-2 is poorly transforming. The differing abilities to immortalize B cells in vitro suggest that in vivo these viruses likely use alternative approaches to establish latency. Indeed, we recently reported that EBV-2 has a unique cell tropism for T cells, infecting T cells in culture and in healthy Kenyan infants, strongly suggesting that EBV-2 infection of T cells is a natural part of the EBV-2 life cycle. However, limitations of human studies hamper further investigation into how EBV-2 utilizes T cells. Therefore, BALB/c Rag2null IL2rγnull SIRPα humanized mice were utilized to develop an EBV-2 in vivo model. Infection of humanized mice with EBV-2 led to infection of both T and B cells, unlike infection with EBV-1, in which only B cells were infected. Gene expression analysis demonstrated that EBV-2 established a latency III infection with evidence of ongoing viral reactivation in both B and T cells. Importantly, EBV-2-infected mice developed tumors resembling diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL). These lymphomas had morphological features comparable to those of EBV-1-induced DLBCLs, developed at similar rates with equivalent frequencies, and expressed a latency III gene profile. Thus, despite the impaired ability of EBV-2 to immortalize B cells in vitro, EBV-2 efficiently induces lymphomagenesis in humanized mice. Further research utilizing this model will enhance our understanding of EBV-2 biology, the consequence of EBV infection of T cells, and the capacity of EBV-2 to drive lymphomagenesis.
  • Published In


  • B lymphocytes, B cell lymphoma, Epstein-Barr virus, T lymphocytes, humanized mouse model
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Coleman CB; Lang J; Sweet LA; Smith NA; Freed BM; Pan Z; Haverkos B; Pelanda R; Rochford R
  • Volume

  • 92
  • Issue

  • 21