A rapid and highly sensitive fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) assay was developed to detect Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected cells in peripheral blood. Multiple fluorescein-labeled antisense oligonucleotide probes were designed to hybridize to the EBER1 transcript, which is highly expressed in latently infected cells. After a rapid (30 min) hybridization, the cells were analyzed by flow cytometry. EBER1 was detected in several positive control cell lines that have variable numbers of EBV genome copies. No EBER1 was detected in two known EBV-negative cell lines. Northern blot analyses confirmed the presence and quantity of EBER1 transcripts in each cell line. This method was used to quantify the number of EBV-infected cells in peripheral blood from a patient with chronic mononucleosis. These results indicate that EBV-infected cells can be detected at the single cell level, and that this assay can be used to quantify the number of EBV-infected cells in clinical samples. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Flow cytometry
- Fluorescent in situ hybridization
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