Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is an aggressive B-cell malignancy with endemic, sporadic and immunodeficiency-associated variants. It has been known for many years that the fundamental transforming event in BL is the translocation of the MYC gene, and the events that bring about this translocation and those that allow cells to survive with the constitutive expression of MYC have been the subject of intense investigation. Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infection, malaria, immunodeficiency and spontaneous, somatic mutation can all contribute to the origin and maintenance of this cancer and their mechanisms are the subject of this review.
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Competing interests: None declared.
GB and GJM contributed equally to this work.