We propose that there are two main classes of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated lymphomas: primarily malignant Burkitt's Lymphoma (BL) and Hodgkin's Disease (HD), on one hand, and primarily benign lymphoproliferations, e.g., post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) on the other hand. PTLD may start as a benign lymphoproliferation which becomes malignant if out of T cell control for too long. Our discovery of a binding site for the oncoprotein c-Myc at a central position of the EBV genome favours a distinction of pathogenetic pathways or scenarios for the proposed lymphoma classes. In the first scenario nuclear maintenance of the EBV genome and activation of viral anti-apoptotic functions with the help of c-Myc are indispensable for the origin of malignant tumours (BL, HD) from the germinal centre B-cell. In the second scenario expression of the main viral transforming protein EBNA2 is essential for immortalisation and non-malignant morphological transformation of any (germinal centre derived or non-germinal centre) B-cell in the absence of T cell control. Although EBNA2 expression is permissible, under specific circumstances, in malignant B-cells, it is not required for oncogenesis.
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