Epstein-Barr virus recombinants from overlapping cosmid fragments

Blake Tomkinson, Erle Robertson, Ramana Yalamanchili, Richard Longnecker, Elliott Kieff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Five overlapping type 1 Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA fragments constituting a complete replication- and transformation-competent genome were cloned into cosmids and transfected together into P3HR-1 cells, along with a plasmid encoding the Z immediate-early activator of EBV replication. P3HR-1 cells harbor a type 2 EBV which is unable to transform primary B lymphocytes because of a deletion of DNA encoding EBNA LP and EBNA 2, but the P3HR-1 EBV can provide replication functions in trans and can recombine with the transfected cosmids. EBV recombinants which have the type 1 EBNA LP and 2 genes from the transfected EcoRI-A cosmid DNA were selectively and clonally recovered by exploiting the unique ability of the recombinants to transform primary B lymphocytes into lymphoblastoid cell lines. PCR and immunoblot analyses for seven distinguishing markers of the type 1 transfected DNAs identified cell lines infected with EBV recombinants which had incorporated EBV DNA fragments beyond the transformation marker-rescuing EcoRI-A fragment. Approximately 10% of the transforming virus recombinants had markers mapping at 7, 46 to 52, 93 to 100, 108 to 110, 122, and 152 kbp from the 172-kbp transfected genome. These recombinants probably result from recombination among the transfected cosmid-cloned EBV DNA fragments. The one recombinant virus examined in detail by Southern blot analysis has all the polymorphisms characteristic of the transfected type 1 cosmid DNA and none characteristic of the type 2 P3HR-1 EBV DNA. This recombinant was wild type in primary B- lymphocyte infection, growth transformation, and lytic replication. Overall, the type 1 EBNA 3A gene was incorporated into 26% of the transformation marker-rescued recombinants, a frequency which was considerably higher than that observed in previous experiments with two-cosmid EBV DNA cotransfections into P3HR-1 cells (B. Tomkinson and E. Kieff, J. Virol. 66:780-789, 1992). Of the recombinants which had incorporated the marker-rescuing cosmid DNA fragment and the fragment encoding the type 1 EBNA 3A gene, most had incorporated markers from at least two other transfected cosmid DNA fragments, indicating a propensity for multiple homologous recombinations. The frequency of incorporation of the nonselected transfected type 1 EBNA 3C gene, which is near the end of two of the transfected cosmids, was 26% overall, versus 3% in previous experiments using transfections with two EBV DNA cosmids. In contrast, the frequency of incorporation of a 12-kD EBV DNA deletion which was near the end of two of the transfected cosmids was only 13%. Other than through incorporation into recombinants arising from among the five cosmids, this marker was rarely incorporated into recombinants which had any marker from the P3HR-1 genome. Thus, the five-cosmid transfection strategy is particularly useful for incorporation of a nonselected marker mapping near the end of a transfected cosmid or near the site of a large deletion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7298-7306
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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