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J Virol. 1999 Dec;73(12):10525-30.

An Epstein-Barr virus that expresses only the first 231 LMP1 amino acids efficiently initiates primary B-lymphocyte growth transformation.

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Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


An Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) recombinant (MS231) that expresses the first 231 amino acids (aa) of LMP1 and is truncated 155 aa before the carboxyl terminus transformed resting B lymphocytes into lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) only when the infected cells were grown on fibroblast feeder cells (K. M. Kaye et al., J. Virol. 69:675-683, 1995). Higher-titer MS231 virus has now been compared to wild-type (WT) EBV recombinants for the ability to cause resting primary B-lymphocyte transformation. Unexpectedly, MS231 is as potent as WT EBV recombinants in causing infected B lymphocytes to proliferate in culture for up to 5 weeks. When more than one transforming event is initiated in a microwell, the MS231 recombinant supports efficient long-term LCL outgrowth and fibroblast feeder cells are not required. However, with limited virus input, MS231-infected cells differed in their growth from WT virus-infected cells as early as 6 weeks after infection. In contrast to WT virus-infected cells, most MS231-infected cells could not be grown into long-term LCLs. Thus, the LMP1 amino-terminal 231 aa are sufficient for initial growth transformation but the carboxyl-terminal 155 aa are necessary for efficient long-term outgrowth. Despite the absence of the carboxyl-terminal 155 aa, MS231- and WT-transformed LCLs are similar in latent EBV gene expression, in ICAM-1 and CD23 expression, and in NF-kappaB and c-jun N-terminal kinase activation. MS231 recombinant-infected LCLs, however, require 16- to 64-fold higher cell density than WT-infected LCLs for regrowth after limiting dilution. These data indicate that the LMP1 carboxyl-terminal 155 aa are important for growth at lower cell density and appear to reduce dependence on paracrine growth factors.

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