Identification of IgH Gene Rearrangement and Immunophenotype in an Animal Model of Epstein–Barr Virus-Associated Lymphomas

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Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is a human oncogenic herpesvirus associated with lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Because the susceptible hosts of EB virus are limited to human and cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus), there have been no appropriate animal models until the lymphoma model induced by EBV in human peripheral blood lymphocyte (hu-PBL)/SCID chimeric mice was reported. However, it is still controversial whether the EBV-associated lymphoma induced in hu-PBL/SCID mice is a monoclonal tumor. In this study, we transplanted normal human peripheral blood lymphocytes (hu-PBL) from six donors infected with EBV into SCID mice to construct hu-PBL/SCID chimeric mice. The induced tumors were found in the mediastinum or abdominal cavity of SCID mice. Microscopic observation exhibited tumor cells that were large and had a plasmablastic, centroblastic or immunoblastic-like appearance. Immunophenotyping assays showed the induced tumors were LCA-positive, CD20/CD79a-positive (markers of B cells), and CD3/CD45RO-negative (markers of T cells). A human-specific Alu sequence could be amplified by Alu-PCR. This confirmed that induced tumors were B-cell lymphomas originating from the transplanted human lymphocytes rather than mouse cells. EBER in situ hybridization detected positive signals in the nuclei of the tumor cells. Expression of EBV-encoded LMP1, EBNA-1, and EBNA-2 in the tumors was significantly positive. PCR-based capillary electrophoresis analysis of IgH gene rearrangement revealed a monoclonal peak and single amplification product in all six cases of induced tumors. This indicated that EBV can induce monoclonal proliferation of human B lymphocytes and promotes the development of lymphoma.

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