We have analyzed the presentation of mycobacterial antigens by Epstein-Barr virus-transformed human B (EBV-B) cells to mycobacteria-specific T-cell clones and lines, and to purified resting T cells. EBV-B cells were able to process and present not only soluble forms of antigen, such as PPD and the expressate preparation of M. tuberculosis strain H37Rv, but also particulate forms of antigen, such as whole mycobacterial H37Rv or M. bovis organisms. Electron microscopy studies demonstrated the capacity of EBV-B cells to phagocytose mycobacterial cells in 18 hr and pulsing experiments confirmed that an 18-hr of incubation is required for an efficient processing and presentation of mycobacterial determinants to T cells. The processing of whole-H37Rv particulate antigen by EBV-B cells was inhibited by the lysosomotrophic compound chloroquine and by high doses of irradiation. Finally, the analysis of the presentation of soluble and particulate mycobacterial antigens by PPD-positive and PPD-negative EBV-B cell clones has shown a preferential presentation of both forms of antigen by PPD-positive EBV-B clones.
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