Changes in chemokines and chemokine receptor expression on tonsillar B cells upon Epstein-Barr virus infection

Immunology. 2009 Aug;127(4):549-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2008.03029.x.


Chemokines and chemokine receptors are likely to play important roles in the pathogenesis of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) -associated disease. The primary EBV infection occurs in the oropharynx where the virus infects mainly tonsillar B cells. We have previously shown that CXCR4 expression on tonsillar B cells is modulated by EBV. Here, CXCR5 and CCR7 expression, which is important for migration into lymphoid tissue, was followed for 14 days after EBV infection of tonsillar B cells. Early after infection (2 days) there were only minor changes in CXCR5 and CCR7 expression. However, at day 7 the expression of CXCR5, as well as of CCR7, was decreased and by day 14 these molecules were no longer present at the cell surface. Furthermore, EBV infection affects the chemotactic response to CXCL13 and CCL21 (the ligands for CXCR5 and CCR7, respectively) with a reduction of ligand-induced migration at day 2. Using gene expression profiling, we identified an additional set of chemokines and chemokine receptors that were changed upon EBV infection in comparison with non-infected tonsillar B cells. In particular, messenger RNA expression for CCR9 and the complement receptor C5AR1 was increased. Both receptors mediate homing to mucosal tissue. The alterations of the expression of these molecules may lead to retention of EBV-infected tonsillar B cells in the interfollicular region of the tonsil.

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokines / metabolism*
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Palatine Tonsil / immunology*
  • Palatine Tonsil / virology
  • Receptors, CCR7 / metabolism
  • Receptors, CXCR5 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism*


  • CCR7 protein, human
  • CXCR5 protein, human
  • Chemokines
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, CCR7
  • Receptors, CXCR5
  • Receptors, Chemokine