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Study Finds MicroRNA Targets p53 Gene in Epstein-Barr Virus–Associated CLL

By: Sarah Campen, PharmD
Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2020

The p53 gene seems to play a vital role in disease progression, clonal evolution, and drug resistance for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and p53 aberration is associated with a poor prognosis. Dan-Min Xu, MD, of the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, China, and colleagues found evidence that p53 is a cellular target for Epstein-Barr virus microRNA-BHRF1-1 (EBV-miR-BHRF1-1), possibly explaining why patients with high expression levels of EBV-miR-BHRF1-1 have a poorer prognosis. Their research findings were published in Cancer Research and Treatment.

The study revealed that p53 aberration was associated with a higher expression level of EBV-miR-BHRF1-1 (P < .001) in 97 patients with newly diagnosed CLL; this was also an independent prognostic marker for overall survival (P = .028). In addition, the investigators discovered that EBV-miR-BHRF1-1 mimics downregulated p53 protein expression. Higher levels also decreased cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis, and induced cell proliferation in cell lines. Conversely, the inhibition of EBV-miR-BHRF1-1 upregulated p53 protein expression, induced cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis, and decreased cell proliferation in diseased cell lines.

“The interaction between EBV-miR-BHRF1-1 and p53 may represent one of the many ways by which EBV-miR-BHRF1-1 promotes Epstein-Barr virus–positive lymphomagenesis of latency III type,” Dr. Xu and colleagues concluded. “Our results support the potential of EBV-miR-BHRF1-1 as a therapeutic target in EBV-associated CLL with p53 gene aberration.”

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.



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