Background: Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is an epithelial malignancy, which commonly occurs in Southern China, Taiwan, North Africa and Southeast Asia. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is strongly associated with Epstein-Barr virus infection. The p53 tumour suppressor protein is rarely mutated in NPC suggesting that the inactivation of p53 pathway in NPC could be due to the presence of EBV proteins. The aim of this work was to determine the effects of EBV proteins namely LMP1 and LMP2A on the expression levels of p53 protein.
Findings: In this work we found that LMP1, but not LMP2A, decreased p53 protein levels. Overexpression of LMP1 resulted in increased ubiquitination of p53 suggesting that the decreased p53 protein levels by LMP1 was due to increased degradation of the protein. The reduction of p53 protein levels was independent of the PI3K-Akt pathway.
Conclusions: LMP1, but not LMP2A, reduced p53 protein levels through the increase in the polyubiquitination of p53 protein and was independent of the PI3K-Akt pathway.