The ubiquitous herpesvirus Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is linked to the development of several malignancies, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) is considered the EBV oncogene as it is necessary for EBV-induced transformation of B lymphocytes and is able to transform Rat-1 fibroblasts. LMP1 can activate a wide array of signaling pathways, including phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt and NF-κB. Six sequence variants of LMP1, termed Alaskan, China 1, China 2, Med+, Med−, and NC, have been identified, and individuals can be infected with multiple variants. The frequencies of detection of these variants differ for various EBV-associated malignancies from different geographic regions. In this study, the biological and signaling properties of the LMP1 variants have been characterized. All of the LMP1 variants transformed Rat-1 fibroblasts, induced increased motility of HFK cells, and induced increased homotypic adhesion of BJAB cells. While all the variants activated the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway to similar extents, the Alaskan, China 1, and Med+ variants had limited binding to the E3 ubiquitin ligase component homologue of Slimb and had slightly enhanced NF-κB signaling. These findings indicate that the signature amino acid changes of the LMP1 variants do not hinder or enhance their in vitro transforming potentials or affect their signaling properties
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