Heterogeneity of HLA and EBER expression in Epstein-Barr virus-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
AffiliationPaterson Institute for Cancer Research, Christie Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom.
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AbstractNasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is an aggressive tumour of multifactorial aetiology that, although rare in most parts of the world, poses a significant mortality problem in its high incidence area of Southern China. Improved therapies are an urgent requirement and, towards this end, immunotherapeutic methods are being developed in several centres. Such strategies are dependent on the immune competence of the target tumour, in particular its expression of HLA class-I. We examined HLA class-I and -II expression in 27 primary NPC biopsies and found that 15% were extensively down-regulated for class-I expression with the majority of tumour cells appearing negative. Whilst HLA class-II was expressed at high levels in the majority of tumours, 37% showed substantial down-regulation. NPC is associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Expression of the virus-encoded EBER RNAs is accepted as a marker of EBV latency and is regarded as a valuable diagnostic criterion. EBER RNAs were expressed in all samples, but in some the level was remarkably heterogeneous, being barely detectable in many tumour cells. Our study reinforces the concept of extensive phenotypic variation in NPC. There are morphological differences between tumour cells. Some tumours express HLA class-I and/or -II, whilst others are down-regulated or negative. Individual tumours may or may not express the EBV-encoded LMP-1 protein, and individual tumour cells may express high levels of EBER, yet adjacent tumour cells express very little or none.
CitationHeterogeneity of HLA and EBER expression in Epstein-Barr virus-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma. 2000, 88 (6):949-55 Int. J. Cancer
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer