The presence of transcripts of the Epstein—Barr virus genes for Epstein—Barr nuclear antigen (EBNA)-1 and EBNA-2 and for latent membrane protein (LMP)-1, LMP-2A and LMP-2B was investigated in 24 nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) biopsies of Chinese origin and two NPC-derived solid tumour lines, CAO and C15, of Chinese and north African origin respectively, propagated by serial transplantation in nude mice. Transcripts were detected by PCR amplification of cDNA. EBNA-1 transcripts were present in all biopsies tested and originated exclusively from the FQ promoter while the C and W promoters were inactive. Using nested primers, LMP-1 and LMP-2B RNAs were found to be co-ordinately expressed in 22 of the 24 biopsies, while the two remaining tumours were negative for both. LMP-2A transcription was detected in 17 of the 22 LMP-1-positive biopsies. In summary, the following patterns of viral gene expression were observed in the tumour biopsies: (i) LMP-1-LMP-2B and LMP-2A positive (17 biopsies); (ii) LMP-1-LMP-2B positive but LMP-2A negative (five biopsies); (iii) no viral gene other than EBNA-1 expressed (two biopsies).


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