Research published in PloS Pathogens suggests that EBNA1-mediated disruption of PML nuclear bodies promotes nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Scientists at the University of Toronto discovered that EBNA1 protein of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) helps in carcinogenesis. They say that the protein disturbs structures in the nucleus of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cells, interfering with cellular processes that usually avert progression to cancer, they report. 

The team examined promyelocytic leukemia (PML) nuclear bodies, which do not accumulate RNA, and proteins in EBV-positive and EBV-negative NPC cells. PML nuclear bodies are known tumor-suppressors due to their role in regulating DNA repair and apoptosis.

Manipulation of EBNA1 levels in each cell type showed that EBNA1 expression induces the loss of PML proteins and PML nuclear bodies, according to the investigators.

The researchers conclude that since EBNA1 is expressed in all EBV-associated tumors including B-cell lymphomas and gastric carcinoma these findings raise the possibility that EBNA1 could play a similar role in the development of those cancers.

The article is published in the October 3 edition of PLoS Pathogens.

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