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Gene Ther. 2001 Nov;8(21):1654-64.

Enhanced suicide gene effect by adenoviral transduction of a VP22-cytosine deaminase (CD) fusion gene.

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Internal Medicine I, Medical University Clinic Tübingen, Germany.


The low transduction efficiency of viral and nonviral vectors is a major limitation in tumour gene therapy. The HSV-1 tegument protein VP22 has been shown to exhibit a novel intercellular transport property. VP22 wild-type as well as VP22 fusion proteins efficiently spread from the original expressing cell to numerous neighbouring cells, so that protein transport by VP22 chimaeric polypeptides into the surrounding cells offers a possible compensation for the inadequate gene transfer efficiencies. To improve the therapeutic efficacy of the E. coli cytosine deaminase (CD) suicide gene we made use of the VP22 transport property in CD transducing adenoviral (Ad) vectors. C- and N-terminal fusions of CD linked in-frame with VP22 were generated and cloned into recombinant adenoviral vectors. Following in vitro transduction immunofluorescence analysis of Ad-transduced producer cells coplated with naive cells confirmed that the characteristic foci pattern of central producer and adjoining neighbour cells displaying nuclear staining was retained. After transduction of rat hepatoma cells with adenoviral vectors and subsequent incubation with the prodrug 5-FC, we observed enhanced cell cytotoxicity when comparing the CD-VP22 fusion (Ad-CD-VP22) with Ad-vectors expressing the CD gene only (Ad-CD). Thereby employment of Ad-vectors encoding VP22 fusion proteins opens up new possibilities to potentiate the efficiency of suicide gene therapy for the treatment of solid tumours.

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