Lymphoblasts of two tissue culture strains (EB1 and EB2) from different biopsy specimens of Burkitt's lymphoma have been examined in thin sections by electron microscopy, and have each been found to carry a morphologically identical virus.
The virus was observed in samples taken over many months, being present in about 1 to 2 per cent of the cells in two forms: Immature particles about 75 mµ in diameter which were seen in both the nucleus and cytoplasm; and larger mature particles with a diameter of 110 to 115 mµ, which were either within membrane-bounded cytoplasmic spaces or at the cell surface. There was some indication that the particles matured by budding through the cytoplasmic membranes.
Both types of particle occurred in dead degenerating cells or, less frequently, in intact altered cells. The characteristic alterations of the latter included margination of the chromatin, fragmentation of the nuclear envelope, beaded opaque material in the mitochondria, and, with one of the cell strains (EB1), sheaves of altered spindle tubules.
All attempts to isolate and identify the virus carried by the two strains of lymphoblasts failed. No pathological effects were caused in 8-day chick embryos inoculated either with whole lymphoblasts or extracts of disrupted lymphoblasts, using the intraallantoic, amniotic, and chorioallantoic routes, and the extraembryonic fluids of such chicks were without haemagglutinating activity for human, chicken, guinea pig, or monkey erythrocytes. Whole lymphoblasts or lymphoblast extracts were likewise without effect when inoculated intraperitoneally into newborn hamsters or two strains of newborn mice. Similar lymphoblast inocula did not cause detectable changes in 9 different test tissue culture systems even after 8 blind passages.
The nature of the unknown, unidentified virus in the cultured lymphoblasts from Burkitt's lymphomas is considered and its possible relationship to the cells discussed.