The latent expression pattern of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) genes in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) has been extensively investigated, and the expression of several lytic genes in NPC has been reported. However, comprehensive information through EBV transcriptome analysis in NPC is limited. We performed paired-end RNA-seq to systematically and comprehensively characterize the expression of EBV genes in NPC tissue and C666-1 NPC cell line, which consistently carries EBV. In addition to the transcripts restricted to type II latency infection, the type III latency EBNA3s genes and a substantial number of lytic genes, such as BZLF1, BRLF1, and BMRF1, were detected through RNA-seq and were further verified in C666-1 cells and NPC tissue through realtime PCR.We also performed clustering analysis to classify NPC patient groups in terms of EBV gene expression, which presented two subtypes of NPC samples. Results revealed interesting patterns of EBV gene expression in NPC patients. This clustering was correlated with many signaling pathways, such as those related to heterotrimeric G-protein signaling, inflammation mediated by chemokine and cytokine signaling, ribosomes, protein metabolism, influenza infection, and ECM-receptor interaction. Our combined findings suggested that the expression of EBV genes in NPC is restricted not only to type II latency genes but also to type III latency and lytic genes. This study provided further insights into the potential role of EBV in the development of NPC.
Keywords: Epstein-Barr virus; latency genes; lytic genes; nasopharyngeal carcinoma; paired-end transcriptome sequencing.