Human peripheral lymphocytes were investigated for receptors binding Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) because of the regular association of this virus with infectious mononucleosis and Burkitt's lymphoma.
This was done by a cytoadherence technique where virus-producing cells, displaying fresh viral determinants in their cytoplasmatic membrane, were mixed with lymphocytes. Unfractionated lymphocytes were found to adhere to these cells in contrast to column-purified T lymphocytes. The specificity of the binding was confirmed by blocking experiments that showed that sera containing high titers of antibodies directed against the virus could partially inhibit the adherence in contrast to low-titer sera. It is concluded that B lymphocytes, in contrast to T lymphocytes, have receptors for EBV.
In a second line of experiments it was found that established human lymphoblastoid lines that carry the EBV genome had receptors characteristic for B lymphocytes and did not form T-lymphocyte rosettes. In contrast, a line of known T-lymphocyte origin that did not carry the EBV genome had receptors characteristic for T lymphocytes.
EBV-transformed simian lymphoblastoid lines had surface markers indicating a B-lymphocyte origin in contrast to HVS-transformed simian lines that lacked surface immunoglobulin but carried receptors for sheep red blood cells.