We have studied the activity of reporter plasmids, carrying the Epstein—Barr virus (EBV) nuclear antigen (EBNA) promoters Wp and Cp, in a group of somatic cell hybrids obtained by fusing EBV-positive lympho-blastoid cell lines or group II/III Burkitt's lymphoma cell lines with non-B cell lines. In B/non-B cell hybrids of this type, B cell markers are extinguished as a rule, in parallel with the inactivation of Cp or Wp and down-regulation of EBNA-2-6 expression. A Wp-carrying reporter construct was active in non-B cell lines. Only cells with a B cell phenotype could support the activity of Cp-carrying plasmids. EBNA-2 transactivated Cp only in B cells. Our data suggest that while Wp can be used for EBNA transcription in B and non-B cells, Cp activity is restricted to B cells. The inability of EBNA-2 to transactivate Cp in non-B cells indicates that other factors present in B cells might be involved in Cp transactivation.


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