Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV-68) is able to persist in spleen cells of infected mice. To determine the cell type harbouring persistent virus, spleen cells from infected animals were separated into immunoglobulin (Ig)-positive (B cell-enriched), Ig-negative (T cell-enriched) and plastic-adherent (macrophage-enriched) fractions. These cells were co-cultivated with permissive BHK-21 cells in an infectious centre assay. The consistent recovery and enrichment of infectious centres in the Ig-positive fraction clearly demonstrates that B cells are a major site of virus persistence/latency. This observation indicates that MHV-68 is biologically similar to Epstein—Barr virus and other members of the B cell lymphotropic gammaherpesvirus 1 subgroup.


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