UMMS Affiliation

Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology; Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology

Publication Date


Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Bioinformatics | Cancer Biology | Computational Biology | Diagnosis | Genomics | Immunology and Infectious Disease | Neoplasms | Nucleic Acids, Nucleotides, and Nucleosides | Viruses


Epstein Barr virus (EBV) is the etiologic agent involved in numerous human cancers. After infecting the host, EBV establishes a latent infection, with low levels of messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein expression, evolved to evade immune recognition. Conversely, EBV microRNAs (miRNA) are expressed ubiquitously and abundantly within infected cells. Their role in tumor biology and clinical outcomes across the spectrum of cancer is not fully explained. Here, we applied our bioinformatics pipeline for quantitative EBV miRNA detection to examine sequencing data of 8,955 individual tumor samples across 27 tumor types representing the breadth of cancer. We uncover an association of intermediate levels of viral miRNA with decreased survival in adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients (P = 0.00013). Prognostic modeling of this association suggests that increased EBV miRNA levels represent an independent risk factor for poor patient outcomes. Furthermore, we explore differences in expression between elevated and absent viral miRNA loads in adult AML tumors finding that EBV positivity was associated with proinflammatory signals. Together, given no associations were found for pediatric AML, our analyses suggests EBV positivity has the potential for being a prognostic biomarker and might represent a surrogate measure related to immune impairment in adult patients.


Cancer genomics, Data mining, UMCCTS funding

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

DOI of Published Version



Sci Rep. 2019 Dec 30;9(1):20321. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56472-1. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Scientific reports

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PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.