‘Spontaneous’ lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCL) were established from patients with either rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or infectious mononucleosis (IM) or from healthy donors. Differences in Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) strains were determined by measuring the mol. wt. and expression of viral antigens in each of the LCLs. In addition to the previously reported EBV nuclear antigens, the LCLs also contained EBV-induced antigens with mol. wt. of 48K and 58K which were present in all but two of the lines. One of the differences observed between each of the groups of cell lines was their ability to produce viral antigens. Early and late antigens were identified by immunoblotting in most of the RA lines, two of the normal lines but none of the cell lines from patients with IM. Many of the IM cell lines were also found to express multiple EBNA1 antigens. The results demonstrate that a variety of wild-type EBV strains exist. However, the similarities observed in a number of the lines suggest that the diversity of strains may be limited.


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