Gene Identified in Epstein-Barr Virus that May Contribute to Cancer
Nov 17, 2005 - 4:36:38 PM

Researchers have identified a gene in the Epstein-Barr virus that may contribute to the development of lymphoproliferative disease (LPD) in humans. Their findings appear in the November 2005 issue of the Journal of Virology.

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a form of human herpes virus that is the causative agent of mononucleosis. It is often associated with various types of human cancers, specifically lymphoproliferative disease (leukemia and hodgkins/non-hodgkins lymphoma), in immunosupressed patients. In the study immunodeficient mice infected with an EBV mutant missing a gene that controls cell lysis (the rupturing of the infected cell to release new viruses) did not develop LPD, however, when mice were challenged with EBV containing the lytic gene, development of LPD was enhanced. These results indicate that lytic gene expression contributes to EBV-associated LPD.

"Our results suggest that the decreased ability of immunosuppressed hosts to control the lytic form of EBV may promote the development of LPD not only by allowing enhanced horizontal transmission of the virus but also by increasing the number of lytically infected tumor cells," say the researchers.

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