Molecular biology of Burkitt's lymphoma

J Clin Oncol. 2000 Nov 1;18(21):3707-21. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2000.18.21.3707.


The diagnostic category of Burkitt's lymphoma encompasses a closely related group of aggressive B-cell tumors that includes sporadic, endemic, and human immunodeficiency virus-associated subtypes. All subtypes are characterized by chromosomal rearrangements involving the c-myc proto-oncogene that lead to its inappropriate expression. This review focuses on the roles of c-myc dysregulation and Epstein-Barr virus infection in Burkitt's lymphoma. Although the normal function of c-Myc remains enigmatic, recent data indicate that it has a central role in several fundamental aspects of cellular biology, including proliferation, differentiation, metabolism, apoptosis, and telomere maintenance. We discuss new insights into the molecular mechanisms of these c-Myc activities and their potential relevance to the pathogenesis of Burkitt's lymphoma and speculate on the role of Epstein-Barr virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / genetics*
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genes, myc / genetics
  • Humans
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Translocation, Genetic