Various 30 and 69 bp deletion variants of the Epstein-Barr virus LMP1 may arise by homologous recombination in nasopharyngeal carcinoma of Tunisian patients

Virus Res. 2006 Jan;115(1):24-30. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2005.07.002. Epub 2005 Sep 8.


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) occurs with a striking geographic distribution, it is endemic in certain areas of Southeast Asia and North Africa. NPC is tightly linked to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), however, only a small subset of EBV genes are expressed, among them the latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1). LMP1 is considered as the main EBV oncoprotein and its 30 bp deleted-variant has been reported to be more prevalent in biopsies of NPC. We have assessed the 30 bp deletion and the XhoI polymorphisms of the BNLF1 gene in 30 peripheral bloods of NPC patients and 62 nasopharyngeal biopsies, 42 being confirmed as undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma and 20 are normal nasopharyngeal epithelium cells. Our results show that 100% of individuals retained the XhoI restriction site. A rare NPC variant, having a 69 bp deletion in the C-terminus region of the BNLF1 gene, covering the 30 bp deletion, was found in two NPC biopsies. The deleted 30 and 69 bp deleted-variants are significantly (p = 0.006) more frequent in NPC (71.42%) than in control biopsies (52%). In peripheral blood of NPC patients, the deleted-variants (47%) are also lower than in tumor tissues (p = 0.0004), suggesting that the deletion could be associated with a risk of tumor genesis. Direct repeats, located at the extremities of the 30 and 69 bp deletions, should be involved in this process. We propose that other deletions could be found since another similar direct repeat is present at the vicinity of the former ones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma / immunology
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / virology*
  • Child
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / virology
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / virology*
  • Nasopharynx / pathology
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / genetics*
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Tunisia
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / genetics*


  • EBV-associated membrane antigen, Epstein-Barr virus
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral
  • Viral Matrix Proteins