High thymidine phosphorylase (TP) expression is significantly correlated with poor prognosis in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). NPC is an Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)-associated cancer in which the EBV-encoded oncogene product, latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1), is expressed in approximately 60% of tumor tissues. However, no previous study has examined whether LMP1 is involved in up-regulating TP expression in NPC tissues. We herein show that LMP1 expression is correlated with TP expression in tumor cells, as examined by quantitative RT-PCR and immunohistochemical staining. We further show that the CTAR1 and CTAR2 domains of LMP1 mediate TP induction, as demonstrated by quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot analyses using LMP1 deletion and site-specific mutants. Mechanistically, LMP1-mediated TP induction is abolished by inhibitors of NF-kappaB and p38 MAPK, dominant-negative IkappaB and p38, and siRNA-mediated knockdown of p38 MAPK. Clinically, there were significant correlations among the expression levels of TP, activated p65, and phospho-p38 MAPK in NPC biopsy samples. Functionally, LMP1-mediated induction of TP expression enhanced the sensitivity of NPC cells to the chemotherapeutic prodrug, 5'-DFUR. Our results provide new insights into the roles of LMP1-mediated NF-kappaB and p38 MAPK signaling pathways in TP induction, potentially suggesting new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of NPC.
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