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J Virol. 2012 May;86(9):5352-65. doi: 10.1128/JVI.07035-11. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Epstein-Barr virus-encoded latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) and LMP2A function cooperatively to promote carcinoma development in a mouse carcinogenesis model.

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  • 1Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) proteins latent membrane proteins 1 and 2 (LMP1 and LMP2) are frequently expressed in EBV-associated lymphoid and epithelial cancers and have complex effects on cell signaling and growth. The effects of these proteins on epithelial cell growth were assessed in vivo using transgenic mice driven by the keratin 14 promoter (K14). The development of papillomas and carcinomas was determined in the tumor initiator and promoter model using dimethyl benzanthracene (DMBA), followed by repeated treatments of 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol 13-acetate (TPA). In these assays, LMP1 functioned as a weak tumor promoter and increased papilloma formation. In contrast, mice expressing LMP2A did not induce or promote papilloma formation. Transgenic LMP1 mice had slightly increased development of squamous cell carcinoma; however, the development of carcinoma was significantly increased in the doubly transgenic mice expressing both LMP1 and LMP2A. DMBA treatment induces an activating mutation in the Harvey-ras (H-ras(61)) oncogene, and this mutation was identified in most papillomas and carcinomas although several papillomas and carcinomas in K14-LMP1 and K14-LMP1/LMP2A mice lacked the mutation. Analysis of signaling pathways that are known to be activated by LMP1 and/or LMP2 indicated that all genotypes had high levels of activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and Stat3 in carcinomas with significantly higher activation in the doubly transgenic carcinomas. These findings suggest that, in combination, LMP1 and LMP2 contribute to carcinoma progression and that this may reflect the combined effects of the proteins on activation of multiple signaling pathways. This study is the first to characterize the effects of LMP2 on tumor initiation and promotion and to identify an effect of the combined expression of LMP1 and LMP2 on the increase of carcinoma development.

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