Latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) is an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) oncogenic protein that has no intrinsic enzymatic activity or sequence homology to cellular or viral proteins. The oncogenic potential of LMP1 has been ascribed to pleiotropic signaling properties initiated through protein-protein interactions in cytosolic membrane compartments, but the effects of LMP1 extend to nuclear and extracellular processes. Although LMP1 is one of the latent genes required for EBV-immortalization of B cells, the biology of LMP1 in the pathogenesis of the epithelial cancer nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is more complex. NPC is prevalent in specific regions of the world with high incidence in southeast China. The epidemiology and time interval from seroconversion to NPC onset in adults would suggest the involvement of multiple risk factors that complement the establishment of a latent and persistent EBV infection. The contribution of LMP1 to EBV pathogenesis in polarized epithelia has only recently begun to be elucidated. Furthermore, the LMP1 gene has emerged as one of the most divergent sequences in the EBV genome. This review will discuss the significance of recent advances in NPC research from elucidating LMP1 function in epithelial cells and lessons that could be learned from mining LMP1 sequence diversity.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited