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Int J Cancer. 2010 Mar 15;126(6):1316-26. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24655.

B-cell differentiation in EBV-positive Burkitt lymphoma is impaired at posttranscriptional level by miRNA-altered expression.

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  • 1Department of Human Pathology and Oncology, University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy.


Endemic, sporadic and HIV-associated Burkitt lymphoma (BL) all have a B-cell phenotype and a MYC translocation, but a variable association with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). However, there is still no satisfactory explanation of how EBV participates in the pathogenesis of BL. A recent investigation suggested that EBV-positive and EBV-negative BL have different cells of origin. In particular, according to immunoglobulin gene mutation analysis, EBV-negative BLs may originate from early centroblasts, whereas EBV-positive BLs seem to arise from postgerminal center B cells or memory B cells. The appearance of a germinal center phenotype in EBV-positive cells might thus derive from a block in B-cell differentiation. The exit from the germinal center involves a complex series of events, which require the activation of BLIMP-1, and the consequent downregulation of several target genes. Here, we investigated the expression of specific miRNAs predicted to be involved in B-cell differentiation and found that hsa-miR-127 is differentially expressed between EBV-positive and EBV-negative BLs. In particular, it was strongly upregulated only in EBV-positive BL samples, whereas EBV-negative cases showed levels of expression similar to normal controls, including microdissected germinal centers (GC) cells. In addition, we found evidence that hsa-miR-127 is involved in B-cell differentiation process through posttranscriptional regulation of BLIMP1 and XBP1. The overexpression of this miRNA may thus represent a key event in the lymphomagenesis of EBV positive BL, by blocking the B-cell differentiation process.

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