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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Mar 1;10(5):1698-705.

Epstein-barr virus-positive gastric carcinoma has a distinct protein expression profile in comparison with epstein-barr virus-negative carcinoma.

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Department of Pathology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



EBV has been detected in 2-16% of gastric carcinomas. However, there is little information available about the gene expression profile of EBV-positive gastric carcinomas.


EBV infection was examined using EBV-encoded small RNAs (EBERs) in situ hybridization, and 63 (5.6%) of 1127 consecutive gastric carcinomas were found to be EBV-positive. The expressions of 27 tumor-associated proteins were evaluated immunohistochemically in 63 EBV-positive gastric carcinomas and 287 EBV-negative carcinomas using the tissue array method. In addition, the genotype of EBV was investigated by PCR amplification of LMP1 (latent membrane protein 1), Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA2), and EBNA3B genes.


EBV-positive gastric carcinomas are characterized by the presence of lymphoid stroma, proximal location, and predominance in males. In comparison with EBV-negative carcinomas, EBV-positive carcinomas showed frequent loss of expression of p16, smad4, FHIT, and KAI-1 (kangai 1; P < 0.05), but retained the expression of APC (adenomatous polyposis coli), DCC (deleted in colorectal cancer), and some DNA repair proteins (P < 0.05). There was negative association between EBV infection and the expression of MUC1, MUC2, MUC5AC, p53, CEA, C-erbB2, and smad7. Using hierarchical cluster analysis, we divided EBV-positive gastric carcinomas into two clusters. Those patients with cluster 1 (42 cases) carcinomas had a better prognosis than those with cluster 2 (12 cases; P = 0.0002) or those with EBV-negative carcinomas (280 cases; P = 0.0251). Fifty-one (92.7%) of 55 EBV-positive carcinomas demonstrated the 30-bp deletion in LMP1 gene, and 53 (96.4%) of 55 cases were type 1 for EBNA2 and EBNA3B genes.


EBV-positive gastric carcinomas have a distinct protein expression profile as well as distinct clinicopathological features, as compared with EBV-negative carcinomas. The subclassification of EBV-positive carcinomas, by hierarchical cluster analysis, is significantly associated with patient survival.

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