Lymphoma occurs at increased frequency in patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). We studied, using serologic and molecular techniques, one such lymphoma for (a) evidence of infection with human T lymphotropic virus, type III (HTLV-III), and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), (b) monoclonal rearrangement of immunoglobulin and T cell receptor genes, and (c) rearrangement of the c-myc oncogene. Immunoglobulin and T cell receptor gene studies demonstrated that the tumor was of monoclonal B cell origin. Similar to cases of Burkitt's lymphoma unrelated to AIDS, there were DNA sequences in the lymphoma that hybridized to EBV-specific probes and demonstrated evidence of c- myc rearrangement. HTLV-III sequences were not detected in the malignant B cells. The pathogenesis of some B cell neoplasms in patients with the syndrome may involve transformation by EBV and deregulation of oncogene expression without direct infection of the malignant B cells by HTLV-III.

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