The frequent coexpression of the EBV-encoded latent membrane proteins LMP1 and LMP2A/B in virus-associated tumors suggests that these two proteins may cooperate in the transformation process. While LMP2A is unable to directly activate the NF-κB and AP-1 pathways, we found that coexpression of LMP2A with LMP1 resulted in a significant enhancement of LMP1-mediated activation of these pathways. This enhancement was found to be critically dependent on the tyrosine residues present within the ITAM motif (Y74/Y85) and, to a lesser extent, the tyrosine at position 112 (Y112). Subsequent analysis revealed that LMP2A is able to stabilize and modulate the turnover of LMP1 by extending its half-life. This ability does not require a direct physical interaction between the two proteins but rather, results from an indirect effect of LMP2A on the turnover of the LMP1 protein. This study highlights an important role for LMP2A as a modulator of LMP1 activity in epithelial cells.
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