Latent membrane protein 2A (LMP-2A) is expressed in Epstein—Barr virus transformed B lymphocytes and has been detected in various types of EBV-associated malignancies. LMP-2A interferes with membrane signal transduction through phosphorylation of its hydrophilic N-terminal domain and binding of the cellular tyrosine kinases encoded by and , the domain can block calcium influx and participate in signal transduction inducing cytokine production. These two activities are differently affected by site-directed mutagenesis of potentially phosphorylated amino acid residues. Several potential tyrosine protein kinase recognition motifs have been identified including an antigen recognition motif (ARAM). ARAMs are activated by tyrosine phosphorylation that enables binding of tyrosine protein kinases such as and . To assess the importance of potential sequence variation in natural EBV infection and in tumourigenesis, the sequence of the LMP-2A N-terminal domain was determined in 28 EBV isolates, including 14 fresh tumour isolates. Comparison of the corresponding sequences with the prototype B95 strain indicates that LMP-2 is generally conserved with a few base pair changes resulting in conservative amino acid changes in an occasional isolate. However, five single-base loci were frequently mutated, resulting in three patterns of sequence polymorphism in exon 1 of LMP-2A. The patterns did not segregate with EBV Type 1 or Type 2 and were detected in both lymphoid and epithelial tissues. Four of the most frequent mutations at loci 166627, 166750, 166796 and 166805 (codons 23, 63, 79 and 82) could potentially affect tyrosine protein kinase binding motifs. The pivotal tyrosines (codons 74 and 85) and leucines (codons 77 and 88) of the LMP-2 ARAM were not affected in any of the isolates, suggesting that ARAM function is important for EBV infection . However, the interspacing positions 79 and 82 were distinct in more than 50% of the isolates. These prevalent polymorphisms could influence interaction of the LMP-2 cytoplasmic domain with specific cellular ligand proteins.


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