Human Epstein-Barr virus-immortalized lymphoblastoid B-cell lines tested positive by PCR for simian virus 40 (SV40) DNA (22 of 42 cell lines, 52.3%). B lymphocytes or tissues from which B-cell lines derived were also SV40 positive. In situ hybridization showed that SV40 DNA was present in the nucleus of a small fraction (1/250) of cells. SV40 T-antigen mRNA was detected by reverse transcription-PCR. Lymphoblastoid B-cell lines (n = 4) infected with SV40 remained SV40 positive for 4 to 6 months. SV40-positive B-cell lines were more tumorigenic in SCID mice than were SV40-negative cell lines (4 of 5 [80%] SV40-positive cell lines versus 2 of 4 [50%] SV40-negative cell lines). These results suggest that SV40 may play a role in the early phases of human lymphomagenesis.
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