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Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a human gammaherpesvirus that is causally associated with various lymphomas and carcinomas. Although EBV is not typically associated with multiple myeloma (MM), it can be found in some B-cell lines derived from MM patients. Here, we analyzed two EBV-positive MM-patient-derived cell lines, IM9 and ARH77, and found defective viral genomes and atypical viral gene expression patterns. We performed transcriptome sequencing to characterize the viral and cellular properties of the two EBV-positive cell lines, compared to the canonical MM cell line 8226. Principal-component analyses indicated that IM9 and ARH77 clustered together and distinct from 8226. Immunological Genome Project analysis designated these cells as stem cell and bone marrow derived. IM9 and ARH77 displayed atypical viral gene expression, including leaky lytic cycle gene expression with an absence of lytic DNA amplification. Genome sequencing revealed that the EBV genomes in ARH77 contain large deletions, while IM9 has copy number losses in multiple EBV loci. Both IM9 and ARH77 showed EBV genome heterogeneity, suggesting cells harboring multiple and variant viral genomes. We identified atypical high-level expression of lytic genes BLRF1 and BLRF2. We demonstrated that short hairpin RNA (shRNA) depletion of BLRF2 altered viral and host gene expression, including a reduction in lytic gene activation and DNA amplification. These findings demonstrate that aberrant viral genomes and lytic gene expression persist in rare B cells derived from MM tumors, and they suggest that EBV may contribute to the etiology of MM. IMPORTANCE EBV is an oncogenic herpesvirus, but its mechanisms of oncogenesis are not fully understood. A role for EBV in MM has not yet been established. We analyzed EBV-positive B-cell lines derived from MM patients and found that the cells harbored defective viral genomes with aberrant viral gene expression patterns and cell gene signatures for bone marrow-derived lymphoid stem cells. These findings suggest that aberrant EBV latent infection may contribute to the etiology of MM.


Fang Lu, Kayla A Martin, Samantha S Soldan, Andrew V Kossenkov, Priyankara Wickramasinghe, Olga Vladimirova, Alessandra De Leo, Cindy Lin, Yulia Nefedova, Paul M Lieberman. Defective Epstein-Barr Virus Genomes and Atypical Viral Gene Expression in B-Cell Lines Derived from Multiple Myeloma Patients. Journal of virology. 2021 Jun 10;95(13):e0008821

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PMID: 33883224

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