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Cancer Res. 2003 Dec 1;63(23):8366-76.

The oncolytic effect of recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus is enhanced by expression of the fusion cytosine deaminase/uracil phosphoribosyltransferase suicide gene.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136, USA.


Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) has recently been demonstrated to exhibit significant oncolytic capabilities against a wide variety of tumor models in vitro and in vivo. To potentially enhance the oncolytic effect, we generated a novel recombinant VSV (rVSV) that expressed the fusion suicide gene Escherichia coli cytosine deaminase (CD)/uracil phosphoribosyltransferase (UPRT). rVSV encoding the CD/UPRT fusion gene (VSV-C:U) exhibited normal growth properties and generated high levels of biologically active CD/UPRT that could catalyze the modification of 5-fluorocytosine into chemotherapeutic 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), which exhibited considerable bystander effect. Intratumoral inoculation of VSV-C:U in the presence of the systemically administered prodrug 5-fluorocytosine produced statistically significant reductions in the malignant growth of syngeneic lymphoma (A20) or mammary carcinoma (TSA) in BALB/c mice compared with rVSV treatments or with control 5-FU alone. Aside from detecting prolonged therapeutic levels of 5-FU in VSV-C:U-treated animals harboring TSA tumors and enhancing bystander killing of tumor cells, we demonstrated marked activation of IFN-gamma-secreting cytotoxic T cells by enzyme-linked immunospot analysis that may have also facilitated tumor killing. In conclusion, the insertion of the fusion CD/UPRT suicide gene potentiates the oncolytic efficiency of VSV by generating a strong bystander effect and by contributing to the activation of the immune system against the tumor without detrimentally altering the kinetics of virus-mediated oncolysis and may be useful in the treatment of malignant disease.

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