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Clin Cancer Res. 2007 Mar 1;13(5):1453-8.

Virus-associated tumor imaging by induction of viral gene expression.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



EBV and other herpesviruses are associated with a variety of malignancies. The EBV thymidine kinase (TK) is either not expressed or is expressed at very low levels in EBV-associated tumors. However, EBV-TK expression can be induced in vitro with several chemotherapeutic agents that promote viral lytic induction. The goal of this study is to image EBV-associated tumors by induction of viral TK expression with radiolabeled 2'-fluoro-2'-deoxy-beta-D-5-iodouracil-arabinofuranoside (FIAU).


Immunoblot, luciferase reporter assay, and in vitro assay with [(14)C]FIAU were used to show the effects of bortezomib on the induction of lytic gene expression of EBV-associated tumor cells. In vivo imaging and ex vivo biodistribution studies with [(125)I]FIAU on EBV-associated tumors were done to visualize and confirm, respectively, the EBV(+) tumor-specific effects of bortezomib.


In vitro assays with [(14)C]FIAU and ex vivo biodistribution studies with [(125)I]FIAU showed that uptake and retention of radiolabeled FIAU was specific for cells that express EBV-TK. Planar gamma imaging of EBV(+) Burkitt's lymphoma xenografts in severe combined immunodeficient mice showed [(125)I]FIAU localization within tumors following treatment with bortezomib.


These results indicate the feasibility of imaging chemotherapy-mediated viral lytic induction by radiopharmaceutical-based techniques such as single photon emission computed tomography and positron emission tomography.

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