In raising murine hybridoma antibodies against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced membrane antigens (MA), we found one antibody that blocked the release of infectious EBV from cultured P3HR-1 cells. This monoclonal antibody (mAb) recognized a 200 kD, phosphonoacetic acid-sensitive (late) MA, and did not directly neutralize virus without complement. When this mAb was added to 33 degrees C-cultured, spontaneously EBV-producing P3HR-1 cells, the intracellular expression of viral capsid antigen and infectious virus was not inhibited, but the appearance of infectious virus in the culture medium was significantly reduced. The duration of this suppression was dependent upon the concentration of the mAb, an effect being observed to a 1:4 X 10(5) titer of the ascites mAb preparation. A more acute effect of suppression of EBV release was observed in a second model of 12-o-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate and n-butyrate induction of EBV in 37 degrees C-cultured P3HR-1 cells. Again, intracellular infectious virus production was not inhibited, but the level of infectious virus in the culture medium was significantly reduced as early as 1 and 2 d of culture with antibody. This effect was reversed within 31 h after replacement of mAb-containing medium with fresh medium. This description of antibody-mediated inhibition of EBV release might lead to the characterization of another form of immune defense for the control of EBV infections.

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