PRDM1/Blimp-1 is a tumor suppressor gene in the activated B-cell subtype of diffuse large B-cell lymphomas. Its inactivation contributes to pathogenesis in this setting by impairing terminal B-cell differentiation induced by constitutive nuclear factor-KB activation. The role of PRDM1 in Burkitt lymphoma (BL) lymphomagenesis is not known. Here we identified hypermethylation of the promoter region and exon 1 of PRDM1 in all six Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive BL cell lines and 12 of 23 (52%) primary EBVpositive BL or BL-related cases examined, but in none of the EBV-negative BL cell lines or primary tumors that we assessed, implying a tumor suppressor role for PRDM1 specifically in EBV-associated BL. A direct induction of PRDM1 hypermethylation by EBV is unlikely, as PRDM1 hypermethylation was not observed in EBV-immortalized B lymphoblastoid cell lines. Treatment of EBV-positive BL cells with 5' azacytidine resulted in PRDM1 induction associated with PRDM1 demethylation, consistent with transcriptional silencing of PRDM1 as a result of DNA methylation. Overexpression of PRDM1 in EBV-positive BL cell lines resulted in cell cycle arrest. Our results expand the spectrum of lymphoid malignancies in which PRDM1 may have a tumor suppressor role and identify an epigenetic event that likely contributes to the pathogenesis of BL.
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