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The Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen leader protein (EBNA-LP) acts as a co-activator of EBNA-2, a transcriptional activator essential for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced B-cell transformation. Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) cells harboring a mutant EBV strain that lacks both the EBNA-2 gene and 3' exons of EBNA-LP express Y1Y2-truncated isoforms of EBNA-LP (tEBNA-LP) and better resist apoptosis than if infected with the wild-type virus. In such BL cells, tEBNA-LP interacts with the protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) catalytic subunit (PP2A C), and this interaction likely plays a role in resistance to apoptosis.
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The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-encoded leader protein, EBNA-LP, strongly activates the EBNA2-mediated transcriptional activation of cellular and viral genes and is therefore important for EBV-induced B-cell transformation. However, a truncated form of EBNA-LP is produced in cells infected with variant EBV strains lacking EBNA2 due to a genetic deletion. The function of this truncated form is unknown.

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The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-encoded leader protein EBNA-LP is made up of several 66-amino-acid repeats (the W1W2 domains) linked to a unique 45-amino-acid C-terminal sequence (the Y1Y2 domain). This protein is highly expressed along with a second nuclear antigen, EBNA-2, during the initial stages of virus-induced B-cell transformation. While EBNA-2's essential role in transformation as a transcriptional activatory is well documented, very little is known about EBNA-LP function except that recombinant viruses lacking the EBNA-LP Y1Y2 exons show reduced, but still detectable, transforming ability.

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The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genes expressed in B lymphocytes immortalized in vitro or in Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) cells infected in vivo have been characterized previously; however, the viral products which are essential for immortalization or for establishment of EBV latency are still not known. To approach this question, we compared the kinetics of expression of EBV nuclear antigens and the two EBV-encoded small RNAs, EBER1 and EBER2, after infection of primary B cells or EBV genome-negative BL cells with either an immortalizing EBV strain (B95-8) or the nonimmortalizing deletion mutant (HR-1). Following infection of primary cells with B95-8 virus, EBV nuclear antigen (EBNA)-2 was expressed first, followed by EBNA-1, -3, and -4 (also called leader protein [LP]) and the two small RNAs.

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Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nuclear antigen leader protein (EBNA-LP) consists of W1W2 repeats and a unique C-terminal Y1Y2 domain and plays a critical role in EBV-induced transformation. To identify the cellular proteins associating with EBNA-LP, we performed a yeast two-hybrid screen using EBNA-LP cDNA containing a single W1W2 domain as bait and an EBV-transformed human peripheral blood lymphocyte cDNA library as the source of cellular genes. Our results were as follows.

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