Lymphocytes from eight preleukemia patients were exposed to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in vitro in an attempt to establish lymphoblastoid cell lines. No signs of viral infection were detected, and no cell lines were obtained. Studies using fluoresceinlabeled EBV and flow cytometry revealed an unusual and consistent deficiency in EBV receptors in all patients examined. In control studies, about 15% of the unseparated lymphocytes from healthy donors bound fluorescein-labeled EBV. In spite of the lack of EBV receptors, B-lymphocytes amounted to 10 to 20% of the preleukemia lymphocyte populations, a proportion similar to that in healthy donors. When lymphocytes from preleukemic patients were first implanted with functional EBV receptors and then exposed to EBV, synthesis of EBV-determined nuclear, early, and viral capsid antigens was induced. Subsequently, several cell lines originating from preleukemic patients' lymphocytes were established. These lines are of a B-lymphocyte origin and carry EBV genome. They will provide experimental material for the molecular analysis of lymphocytic defects in preleukemia and their possible role in the transition to acute leukemia.

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This work was supported in part by USPHS Grant 1R01 CA 33386 awarded by the National Cancer Institute, the R. Estrin Goldberg Memorial Grant for Cancer Research, the Lymphoproliferative Research Fund, and the State Department of Health Grant LB-506.

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