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J Virol. 2013 Oct;87(19):10515-23. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00955-13. Epub 2013 Jul 3.

Epstein-Barr virus-encoded BARF1 promotes proliferation of gastric carcinoma cells through regulation of NF-κB.

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Departments of Pathology, Seoul National University Boramae Hospital.


In Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected gastric carcinoma, EBV-encoded BARF1 has been hypothesized to function as an oncogene. To evaluate cellular changes induced by BARF1, we isolated the full-length BARF1 gene from gastric carcinoma cells that were naturally infected with EBV and transfected BARF1 into EBV-negative gastric carcinoma cells. BARF1 protein was primarily secreted into culture supernatant and only marginally detectable within cells. Compared with gastric carcinoma cells containing empty vector, BARF1-expressing gastric carcinoma cells exhibited increased cell proliferation (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in apoptosis, invasion, or migration between BARF1-expressing gastric carcinoma cells and empty vector-transfected cells. BARF1-expressing gastric carcinoma cells demonstrated increased nuclear expression of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) RelA protein and increased NF-κB-dependent cyclin D1. The expression of p21(WAF1) was diminished by BARF1 transfection and increased by NF-κB inhibition. Proliferation of naturally EBV-infected gastric carcinoma cells was suppressed by BARF1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) (P < 0.05). Immunohistochemical analysis of 120 human gastric carcinoma tissues demonstrated increased expression of cyclin D1 and reduced expression of p21(WAF1) in EBV-positive samples versus EBV-negative gastric carcinomas (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the secreted BARF1 may stimulate proliferation of EBV-infected gastric carcinoma cells via upregulation of NF-κB/cyclin D1 and reduction of the cell cycle inhibitor p21(WAF1), thereby facilitating EBV-induced cancer progression.

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