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Cancer Res. 2000 Dec 1;60(23):6649-55.

Yeast cytosine deaminase improves radiosensitization and bystander effect by 5-fluorocytosine of human colorectal cancer xenografts.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-0010, USA.


The efficacy of cancer gene therapy using bacterial cytosine deaminase (bCD)/5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) enzyme/prodrug strategy is limited by the inefficiency of cytosine deaminase (CD)-catalyzed conversion of 5-FC into 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). We have shown previously that yeast CD (yCD) is more efficient at the conversion of 5-FC than bCD. In the current study, we hypothesized that the increased production of 5-FU by yCD would enhance the efficacy of the CD/5-FC treatment strategy by increasing the bystander effect as well as the efficacy of radiotherapy because of the radiosensitizing capacity of 5-FU. To test this hypothesis, we generated stable HT29 human colon cancer cell lines expressing either bCD (HT29/bCD) or yCD (HT29/yCD). The amount of 5-FU produced in HT29/yCD tumors after a single injection of 5-FC (1000 mg/kg, i.p.) was 15-fold higher than that produced in HT29/bCD tumors. In tumor-bearing nude mice, the average minimum relative tumor size (compared with pretreatment values) of HT29/bCD tumors treated with 5-FC and radiation (500 mg/kg i.p. and 3 Gy, 5 days a week for 2 weeks) was 0.55+/-0.1, compared with 0.01+/-0.01 in HT29/yCD tumors (P = 0.002). Moreover, an increased cytotoxic and radiosensitizing effect of 5-FC on bystander cells was observed in vitro and in vivo when yCD was expressed in HT29 cells instead of bCD. In mice bearing HT29 tumors containing 10% HT29/yCD cells, the combined treatment resulted in a minimum tumor size of 0.20+/-0.07 compared with 0.60+/-0.1 in 10% HT29/bCD cells (P < 0.001). These results demonstrate that the use of yCD in the CD/5-FC strategy has a high potential to improve the therapeutic outcome of combined gene therapy and radiotherapy in cancer patients.

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