JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Host genetics of Epstein-Barr virus infection, latency and disease

Charlotte J Houldcroft, Paul Kellam
Reviews in Medical Virology 2015, 25 (2): 71-84
25430668
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infects 95% of the adult population and is the cause of infectious mononucleosis. It is also associated with 1% of cancers worldwide, such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma and Burkitt's lymphoma. Human and cancer genetic studies are now major forces determining gene variants associated with many cancers, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Host genetics is also important in infectious disease; however, there have been no large-scale efforts towards understanding the contribution that human genetic variation plays in primary EBV infection and latency. This review covers 25 years of studies into host genetic susceptibility to EBV infection and disease, from candidate gene studies, to the first genome-wide association study of EBV antibody response, and an EBV-status stratified genome-wide association study of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Although many genes are implicated in EBV-related disease, studies are often small, not replicated or followed up in a different disease. Larger, appropriately powered genomic studies to understand the host response to EBV will be needed to move our understanding of the biology of EBV infection beyond the handful of genes currently identified. Fifty years since the discovery of EBV and its identification as a human oncogenic virus, a glimpse of the future is shown by the first whole-genome and whole-exome studies, revealing new human genes at the heart of the host-EBV interaction.

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