High-Throughput Sequence Analysis of Peripheral T-Cell Lymphomas Indicates Subtype-Specific Viral Gene Expression Patterns and Immune Cell Microenvironments

mSphere. 2019 Jul 10;4(4):e00248-19. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00248-19.


Certain peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCLs) have been associated with viral infection, particularly infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). However, a comprehensive virome analysis across PTCLs has not previously been reported. Here we utilized published whole-transcriptome RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data sets from seven different PTCL studies and new RNA-seq data from our laboratory to screen for virus association, to analyze viral gene expression, and to assess B- and T-cell receptor diversity paradigms across PTCL subtypes. In addition to identifying EBV in angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) and extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma (ENKTL), two PTCL subtypes with well-established EBV associations, we also detected EBV in several cases of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL), and we found evidence of infection by the oncogenic viruses Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 in isolated PTCL cases. In AITLs, EBV gene expression analysis showed expression of immediate early, early, and late lytic genes, suggesting either low-level lytic gene expression or productive infection in a subset of EBV-infected B-lymphocyte stromal cells. Deconvolution of immune cell subpopulations demonstrated a greater B-cell signal in AITLs than in other PTCL subtypes, consistent with a larger role for B-cell support in the pathogenesis of AITL. Reconstructed T-cell receptor (TCR) and B-cell receptor (BCR) repertoires demonstrated increased BCR diversity in AITLs, consistent with a possible EBV-driven polyclonal response. These findings indicate potential alternative roles for EBV in PTCLs, in addition to the canonical oncogenic mechanisms associated with EBV latent infection. Our findings also suggest the involvement of other viruses in PTCL pathogenesis and demonstrate immunological alterations associated with these cancers.IMPORTANCE In this study, we utilized next-generation sequencing data from 7 different studies of peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) patient samples to globally assess viral associations, provide insights into the contributions of EBV gene expression to the tumor phenotype, and assess the unique roles of EBV in modulating the immune cell tumor microenvironment. These studies revealed potential roles for EBV replication genes in some PTCL subtypes, the possible role of additional human tumor viruses in rare cases of PTCLs, and a role for EBV in providing a unique immune microenvironmental niche in one subtype of PTCLs. Together, these studies provide new insights into the understudied role of tumor viruses in PTCLs.

Keywords: B-cell receptor diversity; EBV; Epstein-Barr virus; Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus; T cell; human T-cell leukemia virus; immune microenvironment; lymphoma; murine leukemia virus; sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cellular Microenvironment
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics*
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / genetics
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Peripheral / immunology*
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Peripheral / virology*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology