In 1977 we showed that cells of a human lymphocytic leukaemia-derived T line (Molt-4) have receptors for Epstein—Barr virus (EBV). More recently, EBV-positive human T cell lymphomas have been recognized and human T cell lines containing the EBV genome have been established . To understand better the interaction of EBV with T cells, we decided to determine first whether human peripheral blood T lymphocytes express receptors for EBV. Using flow cytometry we examined the binding of both lymphocyte-transforming (B95-8) and non-transforming (P3HR-1) strains of EBV to T lymphocyte subpopulations, using a double labelling technique with T cell-specific phycoerythrinated monoclonal antibodies (Leu 2a) and fluoresceinated viral preparation. Our results suggest that, in general, about 50% of the CD8 (or suppressor/cytotoxic) T cell subpopulation from both EBV-seropositive and -seronegative individuals can bind EBV. EBV receptor expression on these T cells was about 10 and 51 times less than that on Molt-4 and Raji (an EBV receptor-positive B cell line) cells, respectively. The specificity of this binding was demonstrated by the inhibition of attachment of viral preparations preincubated with a monoclonal antibody directed against the viral ligand (gp240/350), and by preincubating these target T cells with unlabelled virus. We were unable to detect EBV-induced antigens in infected T cells, suggesting that, as in Molt-4 cells, virus internalization may not occur in fresh T cells and/or that the virus receptor may not be completely functional. We were also unable to detect C3d (or CR2) receptors on these T cells, or to inhibit virus attachment by treating the targets with an anti-CR2 monoclonal antibody (OKB7), suggesting that the EBV receptor on CD8 peripheral blood lymphocytes is different from that on B cells.


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