Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a human herpesvirus that efficiently transforms and immortalizes human primary B lymphocytes. In this study, the role of latent membrane protein 2 (LMP2) in EBV growth transformation was investigated. LMP2 is a virally encoded membrane protein expressed in EBV-immortalized B cells previously shown to be nonessential for EBV transformation. However, a recent study reported that LMP2 may be an important determinant for efficient B cell transformation. In this study a deletion mutation was introduced into the LMP2 gene using an E. coli mini-EBV construct containing sufficient EBV DNA to result in growth transformation of primary B cells. In an alternative approach, the introduction of the gene encoding the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) by homologous recombination into the LMP2 gene of EBV strain B95-8, generating the same LMP2 deletion mutation is reported. Careful quantification of B cell transformation using the EGFP+LMP2- recombinant virus determined that in liquid culture medium or in culture medium containing soft agarose there was no difference in the ability of LMP2- virus to immortalize primary human B cells when compared to that of wild-type virus.
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