The BamHI Z EBV replication activator (ZEBRA) protein is involved in the switch from latency to productive cycle of Epstein-Barr virus. A recombinant ZEBRA protein was synthesized and assessed in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for serum IgG response in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients. In 100 NPC serum samples that were positive for IgA to the EBV viral capsid antigen (VCA), 75% had IgG anti-ZEBRA antibodies. In contrast, only 3/83 (3.6%) serum samples from healthy donors and 2/50 (4%) from other cancers were positive for IgG to ZEBRA. Interestingly, in a selected group of 100 NPC sera negative for IgA to VCA, 25% contained IgG anti-ZEBRA antibodies. This suggests that the ELISA for IgG anti-ZEBRA may also identify earlier cases of NPC not detected by the conventional immunofluorescence test for IgA to VCA.
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