Mature lymphomas produced in Rhode Island Red (RIR) chickens infected with the RB1B strain of Marek's disease virus (MDV) were examined for the presence of viral DNA and RNA and expression of viral antigens. In situ hybridization showed that all tumours examined contained viral DNA in areas of lymphoid infiltration. In 3/5 tumours, there was a correlation between the number and distribution of cells expressing the Marek's disease EcoRI-Q gene (meq) and those that carried the lymphoid cell marker AV37. Expression of the MDV-specific phosphoprotein pp38 was infrequent in lymphomas but abundant in a splenic tumour which also expressed the viral glycoprotein gB. Northern blot analysis of lymphocyte fractions purified by immunoaffinity showed that CD4+ and AV37+ fractions from lymphomas expressed meq and the small RNA antisense to ICP4 (SAR). The results are consistent with the notion that transformed cells are CD4+ cells, carrying the AV37 marker and expressing meq and SAR.


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