Cytoplasmic RNA was prepared from biopsy material obtained from the nasopharynx of normal individuals and nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients. Similar RNA preparations were prepared from lymphocytes of healthy donors and infectious mononucleosis patients. RNA was radioactively labelled and hybridized to cloned fragments of B95-8 Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). In all seropositive cases the minimum pattern of EBV-specific RNA expression was like that observed previously in latently infected, EBV-positive lymphoblastoid cell lines or Burkitt's lymphoma biopsies. A novel observation was that all of the control biopsies from normal nasopharynxes expressed EBV-specific RNA, some of which appeared to be associated with a more active state of EBV infection. The pattern of expression in NPC patients was similar to that of the normal donors but showed some variations in complexity. In general the virus-specified small RNAs were not present in normal nasopharyngeal tissue but were expressed in the NPC biopsies.


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