EBV encodes latent membrane protein (LMP)-2A that functions as a homologue of the activated BCR. We have previously shown that LMP-2A transactivates a human endogenous retrovirus, HERV-K18, in infected B-lymphocytes. The Env protein of HERV-K18 encodes a superantigen that strongly stimulates a large number of T cells. To delineate the mechanism through which LMP-2A transactivates HERV-K18 env, we tested a panel of tyrosine mutants of LMP-2A in a murine B lymphoma that stably harbors HERV-K18. Our analysis revealed that the immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM) of LMP-2A is important for HERV-K18 env transactivation. ITAM contains 2 tyrosines that initiate signaling cascades when both residues are phosphorylated. However, in our study, single-tyrosine mutants of ITAM still retained full induction of HERV-K18 env. After truncating 25 kb of genomic sequence downstream of HERV-K18, LMP-2A failed to transactivate HERV-K18 env. Thus, an LMP-2A-inducible element is located downstream of HERV-K18.
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