A single nucleotide polymorphism in the Epstein-Barr virus genome is strongly associated with a high risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Fu-Tuo Feng, Qian Cui, Wen-Sheng Liu, Yun-Miao Guo, Qi-Sheng Feng, Li-Zhen Chen, Miao Xu, Bing Luo, Da-Jiang Li, Li-Fu Hu, Jaap M Middeldorp, Octavia Ramayanti, Qian Tao, Su-Mei Cao, Wei-Hua Jia, Jin-Xin Bei, Yi-Xin Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) commonly infects the general population and has been associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), which has a high incidence in certain regions. This study aimed to address how EBV variations contribute to the risk of NPC.

METHODS: Using logistic regression analysis and based on the sequence variations at EBV-encoded RPMS1, a multi-stage association study was conducted to identify EBV variations associated with NPC risk. A protein degradation assay was performed to characterize the functional relevance of the RPMS1 variations.

RESULTS: Based on EBV-encoded RPMS1 variations, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the EBV genome (locus 155391: G>A, named G155391A) was associated with NPC in 157 cases and 319 healthy controls from an NPC endemic region in South China [P < 0.001, odds ratio (OR) = 4.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.71-7.37]. The results were further validated in three independent cohorts from the NPC endemic region (P < 0.001, OR = 5.20, 95% CI 3.18-8.50 in 168 cases vs. 241 controls, and P < 0.001, OR = 5.27, 95% CI 4.06-6.85 in 726 cases vs. 880 controls) and a non-endemic region (P < 0.001, OR = 7.52, 95% CI 3.69-15.32 in 58 cases vs. 612 controls). The combined analysis in 1109 cases and 2052 controls revealed that the SNP G155391A was strongly associated with NPC (P(combined) < 0.001, OR = 5.27, 95% CI 4.31-6.44). Moreover, the frequency of the SNP G155391A was associated with NPC incidence but was not associated with the incidences of other EBV-related malignancies. Furthermore, the protein degradation assay showed that this SNP decreased the degradation of the oncogenic RPMS1 protein.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study identified an EBV variation specifically and significantly associated with a high risk of NPC. These findings provide insights into the pathogenesis of NPC and strategies for prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
Pages (from-to)563-72
Number of pages10
JournalChinese Journal of Cancer
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2015


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma
  • Case-Control Studies
  • China
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genome, Viral
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Journal Article
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Pilot Projects
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Viral Proteins

Cite this