Expression of CD4 on Epstein-Barr virus-immortalized B cells

Scand J Immunol. 2009 Sep;70(3):216-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3083.2009.02286.x.


Human antigen presenting cells commonly express CD4 but the significance of this phenomenon has not been clarified. We analyzed a panel of Epstein-Barr virus-immortalized B cells (so called lymphoblastoid cell lines, LCL) by using flow cytometry, DNA-microarray analysis, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The number of CD4(+) cells varied from cell line to cell line but expression of CD4 was detected by flow cytometry and RT-PCR in all investigated cell lines. To characterize CD4 expressing LCL in more detail, we separated CD4(+) and CD4(-) cells from single cell lines by using immunomagnetic beads. When we cultured sorted CD4(+) and CD4(-) cells, we observed that CD4 expression was stable for several passages. However, the number of CD4(+) cells decreased with time in culture. We never observed that CD4(-) cell lines returned back to a CD4(+) phenotype. DNA-microarray analysis of isolated CD4(+) and CD4(-) cells indicated that the overall gene expression profile of both cell populations was highly similar. In addition, CD4(+) and CD4(-) cells showed the same allostimulatory capacity. CD4(+) LCL showed a slightly increased interleukin-16 induced chemotaxis. Differences in the gene expression profile of CD4(+) and CD4(-) cell lines suggested that loss of CD4 expression occurred during a differentiation step involving achaete-scute complex homolog-like 1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • CD4 Antigens / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemotaxis / drug effects
  • Chemotaxis / physiology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-16 / pharmacology
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis


  • ASCL1 protein, human
  • Antigens, CD
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • CD4 Antigens
  • Interleukin-16