The Epstein-Barr virus encoded membrane protein (LMP) induces phenotypic changes in epithelial cells
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The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-encoded membrane protein, LMP, is expressed in a proportion of undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinomas (NPC). Previous studies have shown that the transfection of the gene encoding LMP into a human keratinocyte line, RHEK-1, induces morphological alterations and a reduced expression of cytokeratins. We have analyzed immunophenotypic changes in the RHEK-1 line following LMP-transfection and compared these changes with the phenotype of NPC biopsies. We demonstrate a downregulation of two epithelial markers, an epithelial glycoprotein (EGP) defined by the monoclonal antibody Ber-EP4 and the epithelial membrane antigen (EMA). Furthermore, a lymphocyte activation-associated antigen, CDw70 antigen, which was absent from the parental line was expressed in virtually all LMP-transfected cells, whereas no similar effect was seen with respect to the CD30 activation antigen.
Nine EBV-positive human NPCs, six of which were LMP-positive expressed the EGP and EMA. The CDw70 antigen, which is not normally present in epithelial cells, was expressed in eight biopsies, whereas the CD30 antigen was not detectable. Our findings are in keeping with the notion that LMP expression may contribute to the immunophenotype of human NPCs.
Key wordsEpstein-Barr virus Latent membrane protein RHEK-1 keratinocyte line CDw70 antigen
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