In vitro infection of human B lymphocytes with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) results in establishment of B lymphoblastoid cell lines that reflect normal B cell phenotypes. In this study we have investigated whether immature B cells from fetal bone marrow and liver can serve as targets for EBV. The fetal bone marrow cells were readily transformed by EBV. Among the resulting cell lines, five were surface Ig (sIg)-negative. Three B cell-associated antigens defined by monoclonal antibodies were expressed to the same extent on the fetal cell lines, whether they belonged to the sIg- or sIg+ group. The various differentiation stages that these cell lines may represent are discussed.

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