Robert E. White, Patrick C. Rämer, Kikkeri N. Naresh, Sonja Meixlsperger, Laurie Pinaud, Cliona Rooney, Barbara Savoldo, Rita Coutinho, Csaba Bödör, John Gribben, Hazem A. Ibrahim, Mark Bower, Jamie P. Nourse, Maher K. Gandhi, Jaap Middeldorp, Fathima Z. Cader, Paul Murray, Christian Münz, Martin J. Allday
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) persistently infects more than 90% of the human population and is etiologically linked to several B cell malignancies, including Burkitt lymphoma (BL), Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), and diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Despite its growth transforming properties, most immune-competent individuals control EBV infection throughout their lives. EBV encodes various oncogenes, and of the 6 latency-associated EBV-encoded nuclear antigens, only EBNA3B is completely dispensable for B cell transformation in vitro. Here, we report that infection with EBV lacking EBNA3B leads to aggressive, immune-evading monomorphic DLBCL-like tumors in NOD/SCID/γc–/– mice with reconstituted human immune system components. Infection with EBNA3B-knockout EBV (EBNA3BKO) induced expansion of EBV-specific T cells that failed to infiltrate the tumors. EBNA3BKO-infected B cells expanded more rapidly and secreted less T cell–chemoattractant CXCL10, reducing T cell recruitment in vitro and T cell–mediated killing in vivo. B cell lines from 2 EBV-positive human lymphomas encoding truncated EBNA3B exhibited gene expression profiles and phenotypic characteristics similar to those of tumor-derived lines from the humanized mice, including reduced CXCL10 secretion. Screening EBV-positive DLBCL, HL, and BL human samples identified additional EBNA3B mutations. Thus, EBNA3B is a virus-encoded tumor suppressor whose inactivation promotes immune evasion and virus-driven lymphomagenesis.