Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) as well as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) induce polyclonal B-cell activation and are associated with the appearance of lymphomas in their respective hosts in either the presence or the absence of other co-infecting viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). However, the pathogenic role of these retroviruses in the development of lymphoproliferative disorders remains poorly understood. To explore the virus-B-cell interactions, two immortalized lymphoblastoid B-cell lines (SL-P1 and SL-691) were established from cynomolgus monkeys that were naturally co-infected with a simian type D retrovirus-2 (SRV-2) and with the herpes virus Macaca fascicularis (HVMF-1). We addressed their susceptibility to SIV infection and the phenotypic modifications associated with SIV infection. In response, both cell lines (1) were co-infected with HVMF-1 (latent infection) and with SRV-2 (productive infection), (2) had a transformed phenotype because they did not require exogenous growth factors, and (3) when injected into mice with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), generated serially transplantable tumors. The B-cell origin of SL cells was demonstrated by the presence of rearrangements of the IgH gene and by the expression of typical B-cell lineage markers, such as CD20. SL-P1 and SL-691 could be discriminated on the basis of different expressions of CD23 and CD40 and of κ- and λ-chains. Most importantly, SL-691 cells, but not SL-P1 cells, were susceptible to chronic noncytolytic SIV infection. This infection occurred in a CD4/CCR5/CXCR4-independent manner and was associated with the upregulated expression of CD23 and CD40 cell surface markers. In addition, CD20 expression, which progressively disappeared in SL-691 noninfected cells, was maintained in the SIV-infected counterpart. These findings support the hypothesis that SIV induce phenotypic perturbations in B cells that might eventually contribute to the development of lymphoproliferative disease.
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