Immunodeficiency dramatically increases susceptibility to cancer as a result of reduced immune surveillance and enhanced opportunities for virus-mediated oncogenesis. Although AIDS-related lymphomas (ARLs) are frequently associated with known oncogenic viruses, many cases contain no known transforming virus. To discover novel transforming viruses, we profiled a set of ARL samples using whole transcriptome sequencing. We determined that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) was the only virus detected in the tumor samples of this cohort, suggesting that if unidentified pathogens exist in this disease, they are present in <10% of cases or undetectable by our methods. To evaluate the role of EBV in ARL pathogenesis, we analyzed viral gene expression and found highly heterogeneous patterns of viral transcription across samples. We also found significant heterogeneity of viral antigen expression across a large cohort, with many patient samples presenting with restricted type I viral latency, indicating that EBV latency proteins are under increased immunosurveillance in the post-combined antiretroviral therapies era. Furthermore, EBV infection of lymphoma cells in HIV-positive individuals was associated with a distinct host gene expression program. These findings provide insight into the joint host-virus regulatory network of primary ARL tumor samples and expand our understanding of virus-associated oncogenesis. Our findings may also have therapeutic implications, as treatment may be personalized to target specific viral and virus-associated host processes that are only present in a subset of patients.
© 2015 by The American Society of Hematology.