The expression of the B2 antigen, defined by a monoclonal antibody, was studied on Burkitt lymphoma lines, lymphoblastoid cell lines, leukemia and myeloma lines, hybrids between different hemapoetic cell lines, and EBV-converted sublines of originally EBV-negative, B2-negative B lymphoma lines. In confirmation of earlier results, the expression of B2 was found to be restricted to a relatively narrow portion of the B cell maturation pathway. Non-B cell-derived lines were uniformly negative. Hybrids derived from the fusion of highly B2-positive and B2-negative or low B2 expressing lines of B cell origin were B2-positive. In contrast, fusion of B2-positive Burkitt lymphoma lines with the primitive human erythroleukemia line K562 resulted in the complete extinction of B2 expression. These findings are in line with the expected behavior of a B cell differentiation marker. EBV conversion of the EBV-negative, B2-negative Ramos lymphoma line by the transforming B95-8 substrain of the virus regularly induced the expression of B2, whereas conversion with the nontransforming P3HR-1 substrain had no such effect, in spite of the continued presence of EBV-DNA and EBNA in both types of EBV-converted sublines. The possibility that B2 induction may reflect the action of the transforming gene(s), present in B95-8 but deleted from the P3HR-1 virus, and the implications of this possibility for the functional mapping of the EBV genome are discussed.

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