EBNA2 is a nuclear protein expressed in all cells latently infected with and growth transformed by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection (K. Hennessy and E. Kieff, Science 227:1230-1240, 1985). The nucleotide sequence of the EBNA2 mRNA (J. Sample, M. Hummel, D. Braun, M. Birkenbach, and E. Kieff, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 83:5096-5100, 1986) revealed that it begins with a 924-base open reading frame that has an unusual potential translational initiation site (CAAATGG). This open reading frame is followed by 138 nucleotides with only one highly unlikely translational initiation site (TACATGC), which would translate a pentapeptide before the next stop codon. The last part of the mRNA is the open reading frame which encodes EBNA2. In this paper, we demonstrate that the 924-base open reading frame translates a 40-kilodalton protein in vitro or in murine cells transfected with the EBNA2 cDNA under control of the murine leukemia virus long terminal repeat. A protein of identical size was detected in EBV-transformed, latently infected human lymphocyte nuclei by using antibody specific for the leader open reading frame expressed in bacteria. Therefore, this is a rare example of a mRNA which translates two proteins from nonoverlapping open reading frames. Since the protein encoded by the leader of the EBNA mRNA is expressed in all nuclei of a latently infected cell line, it was designated EBNA-LP. EBNA-LP localizes to small intranuclear particles and differs in this respect from EBNA1, EBNA2, or EBNA3. EBNA-LP is not expressed in an EBV-transformed marmoset lymphocyte cell (B95-8) or in one EBV-infected Burkitt tumor cell line (Raji) but is expressed in three other Burkitt tumor cell lines (Namalwa, P3HR-1, and Daudi)
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