Epstein-Barr virus

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noun, plural: Epstein-Barr viruses

A virus of the genus Lymphocryptovirus from the family Herpesviridae, and the causative agent of infectious mononucleosis in humans


Epstein-Barr virus is a species of the genus Lymphocryptovirus. The genus is known for having linear, non-segmented genome surrounded by an icosahedral nucleocapsid and an outermost envelope studded with glycoproteins. These glycoproteins are crucial to these viruses as they use them to gain entry to the host cell. Humans and other mammals are the natural hosts. They infect the host cell by attaching to the latter's receptors through their glycoproteins. They are then endocytosed. They replicate in the nucleus and leave the host cell by nuclear egress and budding.

The Epstein-Barr virus has a double helix of DNA and bears 85 genes. Its diameter ranges from 122 to 180 nm. This virus is responsible for the infectious mononucleosis in humans. It is capable of infecting epithelial cells and B cells. The mode of transmission is usually by oral transfer of infected saliva. Apart from the infectious mononucleosis, the Epstein-Barr virus is also linked to other diseases such as Hodgkin's lymphoma, gastric cancer, and systemic lupus erythematous. It has also been associated with Burkitts lymphoma in South African children and with nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Asian populations.

The virus is named after its discoverers in 1964, Michael Anthony Epstein and and Yvonne Barr.


  • EBV
  • EB virus

Scientific classification:

  • Order: Herpesvirales
  • Family: Herpesviridae
  • Subfamily: Gammaherpesvirinae
  • Genus: Lymphocryptovirus
  • Species: Human herpesvirus 4

Other name(s):

  • human herpesvirus 4 (HHV-4)

See also: