Human immunodeficiency virus induction of malignant transformation in human B lymphocytes
Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
Herpesvirus 4, Human
Aggressive B-cell lymphomas are occurring with increasing incidence among individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Several lines of evidence implicate both Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and c-myc activation in the pathogenesis of a major subset of these tumors. These observations prompted our investigation of interactions among EBV, c-myc, and HIV in primary B cells. We show that nonimmortalized peripheral B lymphocytes from EBV-seropositive, HIV-seronegative donors can be infected by HIV and that a subset of these lymphocytes become transformed. Malignant transformation was documented by several criteria. These cells displayed altered growth properties, propagating in 1% serum and cloning in soft agar, and formed invasive tumors of Burkitt lymphoma phenotype after subcutaneous injection into severe combined immunodeficiency mice. Such cells revealed marked enhancement of EBV DNA and RNA and of endogenous c-myc transcripts and protein. HIV-1 infection of already immortalized B-cell lines led to a similar upregulation of EBV and c-myc transcripts. These data indicate that HIV has properties of a transforming retrovirus, as it mediates two events linked to B-cell neoplasia: deregulation of c-myc and activation of EBV. They also raise the possibility of a role for HIV, apart from induction of immune suppression, in the pathogenesis of B-cell lymphoma in the acquired immune deficiency syndrome.