Purified hexameric Epstein-Barr virus-encoded BARF1 protein for measuring anti-BARF1 antibody responses in nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients.

E.K. Hoebe, S.H. Hutajulu, J. van Beek, S.J.C. Stevens, D.K. Paramita, A.E. Greijer, J.M. Middeldorp

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WHO type III nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is highly prevalent in Indonesia and 100% associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). NPC tumor cells express viral proteins, including BARF1, which is secreted and is considered to have oncogenic and immune-modulating properties. Recently, we found conserved mutations in the BARF1 gene in NPC isolates. This study describes the expression and purification of NPC-derived BARF1 and analyzes humoral immune responses against prototype BARF1 (B95-8) and purified native hexameric BARF1 in sera of Indonesian NPC patients (n = 155) compared to healthy EBV-positive (n = 56) and EBV-negative (n = 16) individuals. BARF1 (B95-8) expressed in Escherichia coli and baculovirus, as well as BARF1-derived peptides, did not react with IgG or IgA antibodies in NPC. Purified native hexameric BARF1 protein isolated from culture medium was used in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and revealed relatively weak IgG and IgA responses in human sera, although it had strong antibody responses to other EBV proteins. Higher IgG reactivity was found in NPC patients (P = 0.015) than in regional Indonesian controls or EBV-negative individuals (P <0.001). IgA responses to native BARF1 were marginal. NPC sera with the highest IgG responses to hexameric BARF1 in ELISA showed detectable reactivity with denatured BARF1 by immunoblotting. In conclusion, BARF1 has low immunogenicity for humoral responses and requires native conformation for antibody binding. The presence of antibodies against native BARF1 in the blood of NPC patients provides evidence that the protein is expressed and secreted as a hexameric protein in NPC patients
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-304
JournalClinical and vaccine immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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