Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. The cause of MS is still unknown but epidemiological and immunological studies have implicated Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which infects B cells, as a possible etiological agent involved in disease. Of particular interest is EBV latent membrane protein 2A (LMP2A) because previous studies have demonstrated that LMP2A enhances the expansion and differentiation of B cells upon antigen stimulation, revealing a potential contribution of this protein in autoimmunity. Since B cells are thought to contribute to MS, we examined the role of LMP2A in the animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). In this model, transgenic mice in which B cells express LMP2A show increased severity and incidence of disease. This difference was not due to lymphocyte recruitment into the CNS or differences in T cell activation, rather, we show that LMP2A enhances antigen presentation function.
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