Open Access Research article

Identification of a novel variant of LMP-1 of EBV in patients with endemic Burkitt lymphoma in western Kenya

Eric M Wohlford1, Amolo S Asito23, Kiprotich Chelimo24, Peter O Sumba2, Paul C Baresel1, Rebecca A Oot1, Ann M Moormann5 and Rosemary Rochford1*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Global Health and Translational Science, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA

2 Center for Global Health Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kisumu, Kenya

3 Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Bondo, Kenya

4 Department of Bomedical Science and Technology, Maseno University, Maseno, Kenya

5 Department of Pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worchester, MA 01655, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Infectious Agents and Cancer 2013, 8:34  doi:10.1186/1750-9378-8-34

Published: 9 September 2013

Abstract

Background

Epstein Barr virus (EBV) is a gammaherpesvirus that is associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and endemic Burkitt lymphoma (eBL). EBV carries several latent genes that contribute to oncogenesis including the latent membrane protein 1 (LMP-1), a known oncogene and constitutively active CD40 homolog. Variation in the C terminal region of LMP-1 has been linked to NPC pathogenesis, but little is known regarding LMP-1 variation and eBL.

Results

In the present study, peripheral blood samples were obtained from 38 eBL patients and 22 healthy controls in western Kenya, where the disease is endemic. The LMP-1 C-terminal region from these samples was sequenced and analyzed. The frequency of a 30 base pair deletion of LMP-1 previously linked to NPC was not associated with eBL compared to healthy controls. However a novel LMP-1 variant was identified, called K for Kenya and for the G318K mutation that characterizes it. The K variant LMP-1 was found in 40.5% of eBL sequences and 25.0% of healthy controls. All K variant sequences contained mutations in both of the previously described minimal T cell epitopes in the C terminal end of LMP-1. These mutations occurred in the anchor residue at the C-terminal binding groove of both epitopes, a pocket necessary for MHC loading.

Conclusions

Overall, our results suggest that there is a novel K variant of LMP-1 in Kenya that may be associated with eBL. Further studies are necessary to determine the functional implications of the LMP-1 variant on early events in eBL genesis.