Epstein-Barr virus infection negatively impacts the CXCR4-dependent migration of tonsillar B cells

Immunology. 2006 Mar;117(3):379-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2005.02311.x.


The primary Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection occurs in the oropharynx, where the virus infects B cells and subsequently establishes latency in the memory B-cell compartment. EBV has previously been shown to induce changes in the cell surface expression of several chemokine receptors in cell lines and the transfection of EBNA2 or LMP1 into a B-cell-lymphoma-derived cell line decreased the expression of CXCR4. We show that in vitro EBV infection reduces the expression of CXCR4 on primary tonsil B cells already 43 hr after infection. Furthermore, EBV infection affects the chemotactic response to stromal cell-derived factor (SDF-1)alpha/CXCL12, the ligand for CXCR4, with a reduction of SDF-1alpha-induced migration. To clarify whether this reduced migration is EBV-specific or a consequence of cell activation, tonsillar B cells were either infected with EBV, activated with anti-CD40 and interleukin-4 (IL-4) or kept in medium. Activation by anti-CD40 and IL-4 decreased the CXCR4 expression but the CD40 + IL-4-stimulated cells showed no reduction of chemotactic efficacy. Our finding suggests that changing the SDF-1alpha response of the EBV-infected B cells may serve the viral strategy by directing the infected cells into the extrafollicular areas, rather than retaining them in the lymphoepithelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD40 Antigens / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC / immunology
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte / immunology*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens / metabolism
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Palatine Tonsil / immunology*
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / immunology*
  • Viral Proteins


  • CD40 Antigens
  • CXCL12 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • EBNA-2 protein, Human herpesvirus 4
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • Viral Proteins
  • Interleukin-4