[Epstein-Barr virus and Burkitt's lymphoma].Med Trop (Mars) 1999; 59(4 Pt 2):499-502MT
Burkitt's lymphoma has the highest incidence of any childhood cancer in equatorial Africa. Geographic distribution appears to be related to climatic conditions and coincides with areas of endemic malaria. These tumors are characterized by reciprocal translocation from chromosome 8 at or near the c-myc locus to either the immunoglobulin chain locus on chromosome 14 (80 p. 100 of cases) or one of the light chain loci on chromosome 2 or 22. As a result of this translocation, transcription of the protooncogene c-myc is activated. Deregulation of c-myc could play a major role in onset and development of the tumor. Study of Burkitt's lymphoma led to the discovery of the first association between viral infection and tumor development in humans. The Epstein-Barr virus is contained in all endemic Burkitt's lymphoma cells, thus implicating it as a likely etiologic factor. Viral expression is reduced essentially to small non-coding RNA, non-polyadenilates, and EBERs (10(6) copies per cell) and a nuclear protein EBNA1 which is indispensable for maintenance of the Epstein-Barr virus genome in infected cells. Expression of EBNA in transgenes leads to lymphoma in mice and could play a role in the expression of the c-myc gene involved in translocations.