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Gene Ther. 2006 Jan;13(2):150-62.

Epstein-Barr virus vector-mediated gene transfer into human B cells: potential for antitumor vaccination.

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  • 1Department of Gene Vectors, GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, Munich, Germany.


The efficient gene transfer of immunostimulatory cytokines into autologous tumor cells or the transfer of tumor-associated antigens into professional antigen-presenting cells is a prerequisite for many immunotherapeutic approaches. In particular with B cells, the efficiency of gene uptake is one of the limiting factors in cell-based vaccine strategies, since normal and malignant human B cells are commonly refractory to transducing gene vectors. Due to its natural tropism for human B cells, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a human herpes virus, might be an option, which we wanted to explore. EBV efficiently infects human B cells and establishes a latent infection, while the viral genome is maintained extrachromosomally. Although these characteristics are attractive, EBV is an oncogenic virus. Here, we present a novel EBV-derived vector, which lacks three EBV genes including two viral oncogenes and an essential lytic gene, and encodes granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) as a cytokine of therapeutic interest. We could show that EBV vectors efficiently transduce different B-cell lines, primary resting B cells, and tumor cells of B-cell lineage. Vector-derived GM-CSF was expressed in sufficient amounts to support the maturation of dendritic cells and their presentation of model antigens to cognate T-cell clones in autologous settings and an allogeneic, HLA-matched assay. We conclude that the EBV vector system might offer an option for ex vivo manipulation of B cells and gene therapy of B-cell lymphomas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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