Chromosomal rearrangements after ex vivo Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection of human B cells

Oncogene. 2010 Jan 28;29(4):503-15. doi: 10.1038/onc.2009.359. Epub 2009 Nov 2.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is carried by more than 90% of the adult world population and has been implicated in several human malignancies. Its ability to induce unlimited in vitro proliferation of B cells is frequently used to generate lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). In this study, we have investigated the evolution of two LCLs up to 25 weeks after EBV infection. LCLs were karyotyped once a month by spectral karyotyping (SKY). LCLs but not mitogen-activated B cells showed evidence of DNA damage and DNA damage response within the first 2 weeks. After 4 weeks, the former, but not the latter, showed a high level of non-clonal structural aberrations, mainly deletions, fragments, dicentric chromosomes and unbalanced translocations. Genomic instability decreased thereafter over time. Nonrandom aneuploidy 12 weeks after infection showed clonal evolution in culture. After 25 weeks post-infection, most cells exhibited karyotypic stability. Chromosomal aberrations were compatible with telomere dysfunction, although in the absence of telomere shortening. The telomere capping protein TRF2 was partially displaced from telomeres in EBV-infected cells, suggesting an EBV-mediated uncapping problem. In conclusion, this study suggests that DNA damage and telomere dysfunction contribute to EBV-related chromosomal instability in early LCLs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Chromosomes, Human*
  • DNA Damage
  • Genomic Instability
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping
  • Mice
  • Telomere / genetics