1887

Abstract

Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infection is strongly associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a common cancer in Southeast Asia and certain regions of Africa. However, the dynamics of EBV episome maintenance in infected nasopharyngeal epithelial (NPE) cells remain largely undefined. Here, we report the establishment of a highly efficient cell-free EBV infection method for NPE cells. By using this method, we have defined some of the dynamic events involved in the early stage of EBV infection in NPE cells. We report, for the first time, a rapid loss of EBV copies from infected NPE cells during the first 12–72 h post-infection. The rate of EBV loss slowed at later stages of infection. Live cell imaging revealed that the freshly infected NPE cells were delayed in entry into mitosis compared with uninfected cells. Freshly infected NPE cells transcribed significantly higher levels of lytic EBV genes BZLF1 and BMRF1 yet significantly lower levels of EBER1/2 than stably infected NPE cells. Notably, there were very low or undetectable levels of protein expressions of EBNA1, LMP1, Zta and Rta in freshly infected NPE cells, whereas EBNA1 and LMP1 proteins were readily detected in stable EBV-infected NPE cells. The kinetics of EBV loss and the differential EBV gene expression profiles between freshly and stably infected NPE cells are in line with the suggestion of epigenetic changes in the EBV genome that affect viral gene expression and the adaptation of host cells to EBV infection to maintain persistent EBV infection in NPE cells.

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2019-02-28
2020-01-17
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