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Cancer Sci. 2008 Sep;99(9):1726-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2008.00888.x. Epub 2008 Jul 4.

Epstein-Barr virus and gastric carcinoma: virus-host interactions leading to carcinoma.

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Department of Pathology and Diagnostic Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Hongo 7-3-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated gastric carcinoma (GC) is a distinct subgroup of GC, comprising 10% of all cases of GC. EBV-associated carcinoma is the monoclonal growth of EBV-infected epithelial cells, and it represents a model of virus-host interactions leading to carcinoma. EBV-infected cells express several latent proteins (latency I program of viral latent gene expression) in EBV-associated GC. However, latent membrane protein 2A (LMP2A) up-regulates the cellular survivin gene through the NFkB pathway, conferring resistance to apoptotic stimuli on the neoplastic cells. EBV-associated GC also shows characteristic abnormality, that is, global and non-random CpG island methylation of the promoter region of many cancer-related genes. Since the viral genes are also regulated by promoter methylation in the infected cells, the DNA methylation mechanism specific to EBV-associated GC may be an exaggeration of the cellular mechanism, which is primarily for defense against foreign DNA. Production of several immunomodulator molecules, inducing tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte and macrophages, serves to form the characteristic histologic pattern in EBV-associated GC. The proposed sequence of events within the mucosa is as follows: EBV infection of certain gastric stem cells; expression of viral latent genes; abnormality of signal pathways caused by viral gene products; DNA methylation-mediated repression of tumor suppressor genes; and monoclonal growth of EBV-infected cells through interaction with other etiologic factors. Potentially useful therapeutic approaches to EBV-associated GC are those that utilize the virus-host interactions, such as bortezomib-induced and viral enzyme-targeted radiotherapy.

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