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Cancer Res. 2000 Jan 15;60(2):334-41.

Prostate-specific antigen promoter/enhancer driven gene therapy for prostate cancer: construction and testing of a tissue-specific adenovirus vector.

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  • 1CRC Institute for Cancer Studies, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.


A range of luciferase reporter vectors was constructed, incorporating 5'-flanking sequences from the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), human glandular kallikrein 2 (hKLK2), and cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoters for expression control. Tissue specificity was evaluated in the PSA-positive line LNCaP and PSA-negative cells from different tissues of origin (CoLo320, DG75, EJ, A2780, and Jurkat). The minimal 628-bp PSA and hKLK2 promoters showed only low-level expression in either PSA-positive or PSA-negative cells and showed no increase with the addition of androgen. Tandem duplication of the PSA promoter slightly increased expression in PSA-positive LNCaP cells. The addition of CMV enhancer sequences upstream of a single PSA or hKLK2 promoter substantially but nonspecifically increased luciferase expression in all cell lines tested. However, placing a 1455-bp PSA enhancer sequence upstream of either the PSA or hKLK2 promoters increased expression 20-fold in the PSA-positive cell line LNCaP but not in the PSA-negative lines. Tandem duplication of the PSA enhancer increased expression to approximately 50-fold higher than either promoter alone while retaining tissue-specific control. The level of expression was reduced by the addition of a third copy of the PSA enhancer. Expression from all enhancer constructs was increased 100-fold above basal levels when induced with the androgen dihydrotestosterone, with the PSA-based constructs consistently exhibiting roughly twice the level of expression of the hKLK2-based constructs at all androgen concentrations. Adenovirus vectors were produced in which either enhanced green fluorescent protein or nitroreductase could be expressed from the optimized PSA double enhancer-promoter construct and evaluated in LNCaP cells and the bladder-derived line EJ. Control vectors with the CMV promoter gave good levels of expression in both cell lines, whereas the PSA constructs only produced detectable levels of protein in the LNCaP cells as assessed by fluorescence of enhanced green fluorescent protein or by Western blotting of nitroreductase. LNCaP but not EJ cells were selectively sensitized to the prodrug CB1954 following infection with Ad-PSA(EEP)-NR. The PSA-based nitroreductase virus produced comparable amounts of nitroreductase and sensitization to CB1954 approaching that of the CMV-driven virus. Plasmid and adenovirus constructs combining PSA enhancer and promoter sequences demonstrate selective expression of linked genes in PSA-positive cells. The expression is induced by androgen and gives therapeutically relevant levels of effector proteins.

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