EB virus-induced B lymphocyte cell lines producing specific antibody


EPSTEIN–BARR virus (EBV) is a lymphotropic herpesvirus that converts normal human B lymphocytes into established lines. This ‘immortalisation’ preserves the characteristics of the original B cell, including EBV receptors, complement receptors, surface immunoglobulin and secretory immunoglobulin. Surface immunoglobulin is most frequently IgM. EBV-immortalised lines carry multiple copies of the viral genome, detected by nucleic acid hybridisation, and regularly express an EBV-specific nuclear antigen, EBNA. It has been suggested1 that all B-cells carry EBV receptors. If so, and if all B cells can be transformed into lines by EBV, it should be feasible to establish permanent lines from B lymphocytes capable of producing specific antibodies against appropriate antigens. Clearly, in view of the polyclonal transformation obtained after infection of B lymphocytes with a transforming virus strain, for example, B95-8, it will be necessary to pre-select lymphocytes with the appropriate antigen combining site. Resetting with antigen-coupled erythrocytes is one of the conceivable methods for such pre-selection. While this will select lymphocytes with the appropriate surface immunoglobulin receptors, it was recently shown that EBV-transformation activates normal lymphocytes and induces the release of secretory immunoglobulin2. If the procedure is successful, the established lines might therefore be expected to carry the appropriate surface receptor and also to secrete the corresponding antibody. This was actually found in this study, opening the way to the establishment of cell lines producing specific antibodies of choice.

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STEINITZ, M., KLEIN, G., KOSKIMIES, S. et al. EB virus-induced B lymphocyte cell lines producing specific antibody. Nature 269, 420–422 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1038/269420a0

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