Epstein-Barr virus-positive Burkitt's lymphoma cells not recognized by virus-specific T-cell surveillance

Nature. 1985 Oct;317(6038):629-31. doi: 10.1038/317629a0.


The pathogenesis of Epstein-Barr (EB) virus-positive Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) appears to involve the combined actions of virus-induced B-cell proliferation, and a rare chromosomal translocation juxtaposing c-myc and immunoglobulin gene loci in a single B cell; holoendemic malarial infection in some way facilitates the oncogenic process. Outgrowth of the EB virus-positive tumour suggests either breakdown or evasion of those immune controls, in particular cytotoxic T-cell responses against the virus-induced lymphocyte-detected membrane antigen LYDMA, which limit virus-infected B-cell numbers in healthy virus carriers. Immunosuppression, such as that which malarial infection may induce, cannot itself be a sufficient explanation in this regard since our studies have identified a number of BL patients who retain detectable LYDMA-specific T-cell surveillance. The present work shows that in many cases of virus-associated BL, the emerging malignant clone is insensitive to such surveillance. Several EB virus-positive BL cell lines, recently established in vitro and expressing the class I histocompatibility locus antigens (HLAs) which restrict cytotoxic T-cell function, were not killed by HLA-matched LYDMA-specific effector populations in assays where the EB virus-positive lymphoblastoid cell line (LCL), derived from normal B cells of the same patient, sustained high levels of lysis.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / immunology*
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / microbiology
  • Cell Line
  • HLA Antigens / analysis*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*


  • Antigens, Surface
  • HLA Antigens
  • Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1