Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) causes infectious mononucleosis in adolescents and is associated with malignant B lymphocyte proliferation in AIDS patients, patients undergoing immune suppression for organ transplantation, and SCID mice. In vitro, EBV transformed, latently infected lymphoblastoid B cell lines (LCLs) contain EBV episomes and express nine virus encoded proteins. Six are nuclear proteins (EBNAs) and three are the integral membrane proteins, LMP1, LMP2A, and LMP2B. To determine if LMP2 was essential for in vivo growth, SCID mice were injected with LCLs containing wild-type EBV (LMP2+) or with LCLs transformed with EBV containing mutations in either LMP2A or LMP2B (LMP2-). SCID mice injected with the LMP2+ or LMP2-LCLs were monitored for tumor development, length of time to tumor development, and phenotypic characterization of the resulting tumors. No difference was observed in any of the above parameters between LMP2+ and LMP2- LCLs demonstrating that LMP2 is not essential for the in vivo growth of EBV transformed B lymphocytes in SCID mice.
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