The human Epstein–Barr virus is associated with several human solid and hematopoietic malignancies. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms including virus-encoded microRNAs (miRs), which lead to the malignant transformation of infected cells and immune evasion of EBV-associated tumors, have not yet been characterized. The expression levels of numerous known EBV-specific miRs and their suitability as diagnostic and/or prognostic markers were determined in different human EBV-positive tissues followed by in silico analyses to identify putative EBV-miR-regulated target genes, thereby offering a suitable screening strategy to overcome the limited available data sets of EBV-miRs and their targeted gene networks. Analysis of microarray data sets from healthy human B cells and malignant-transformed EBV-positive B cells of patients with Burkitt’s lymphoma revealed statistically significant (p < 0.05) deregulated genes with known functions in oncogenic properties, immune escape and anti-tumoral immune responses. Alignments of in vivo and in silico data resulted in the prediction of putative candidate EBV-miRs and their target genes. Thus, a combinatorial approach of bioinformatics, transcriptomics and in situ expression analyses is a promising tool for the identification of EBV-miRs and their potential targets as well as their eligibility as markers for EBV detection in different EBV-associated human tissue.
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© 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
- EBV target genes
- EBV-driven disease
- malignant transformation