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Keywords:

  • EBV;
  • infectious mononucleosis;
  • chronic active EBV infection;
  • EBV-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis;
  • genotyping;
  • real-time RT-PCR

Abstract

Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) genotypes can be distinguished based on gene sequence differences in EBV nuclear antigens 2, 3A, 3B, and 3C, and the BZLF1 promoter zone (Zp). EBV subtypes and BZLF1 Zp variants were examined in Japanese patients with infectious mononucleosis, chronic active EBV infection, and EBV-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. The results of EBV typing showed that samples of infectious mononucleosis, chronic active EBV infection, and EBV-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis all belonged to EBV type 1. However, sequencing analysis of BZLF1 Zp found three polymorphic Zp variants in the same samples. The Zp-P prototype and the Zp-V3 variant were both detected in infectious mononucleosis and chronic active EBV infection. Furthermore, a novel variant previously identified in Chinese children with infectious mononucleosis, Zp-V1, was also found in 3 of 18 samples of infectious mononucleosis, where it coexisted with the Zp-P prototype. This is the first evidence that the EBV variant distribution in Japanese patients resembles that found in other Asian patients. The expression levels of 29 chronic active EBV infection-associated cellular genes were also compared in the three EBV-related disorders, using quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis. Two upregulated genes, RIPK2 and CDH9, were identified as common specific markers for chronic active EBV infection in both in vitro and in vivo studies. RIPK2 activates apoptosis and autophagy, and could be responsible for the pathogenesis of chronic active EBV infection. J. Med. Virol. 84:940–946, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.