Cell lines were established from the peripheral blood of two patients with adult T cell leukemia. In contrast to our previous experience, where all such lines expressed T cell markers, these two cell lines expressed B cell antigens and Ig light chains (kappa on CF-2, lambda on HS). Human T cell lymphoma proviral (HTLV) sequences were demonstrated in both cell lines. Since only a portion of the cells in culture expressed Ig light chains, experiments were carried out to exclude the possibility that the cultures were not a mixture of B and T or non-B cells. Cells that expressed kappa- or lambda-light chains were separated by cell sorting from kappa- or lambda-negative cells and replaced in culture. Light chain negative cells reexpressed light chains after time in culture. After 5-azacytidine treatment of the cell lines, all cells expressed Ig light chains. These studies show that the human retrovirus HTLV, which has been demonstrated to be associated with certain T cell malignancies, can infect B cells or B cell precursors.
D L Mann, J Clark, M Clarke, M Reitz, M Popovic, G Franchini, C D Trainor, D M Strong, W A Blattner, R C Gallo