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Scientists find protein in Epstein-Barr virus causes B cell lymphoma in laboratory mice

cancer in animals and is a major contributing factor to development of Epstein-Barr virus lymphomas," Raab-Traub said.

The new report describes experiments in which those mice were crossed with other mice in which a molecule called CD40 had been knocked out, or incapacitated, she said. CD40 is involved in maturation of B cells, which are white blood cells that make immunoglobulin antibodies. Humans bearing a mutation preventing CD40 function cannot produce effective antibodies.

Because CD40 and LMP1 have been shown to interact with the same cellular proteins, the researchers crossed the mice to learn whether LMP1 could partially substitute for CD40 in the immune-deficient mice. That's exactly what happened.

"The mice could now make immunoglobulins in a process called class switching," Raab-Traub said. "But LMP1 seemed to specifically impair the ability of mice that had CD40 to make something called a germinal center, where B cells mature.

"These experiments tell us something important about how the virus manages to persist in the body and where it is." A National Cancer Institute grant to Raab-Traub supports the research.


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Contact: David Williamson
David_Williamson@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
7-Oct-1999


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