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Mol Ther. 2005 Apr;11(4):563-77.

Viral and nonviral factors causing nonspecific replication of tumor- and tissue-specific promoter-dependent oncolytic adenoviruses.

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Department of Cardiology and Pneumonology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Hindenburgdamm 30, 12200 Berlin, Germany.


Restricted replication-competent adenoviruses (RRCAs) using tumor- and tissue-specific promoters (ttsP's) are new tools for cancer gene therapy. In this study we investigated viral and nonviral factors affecting "leakiness" of several ttsP's and their relevance for nonspecific ttsP-dependent RRCA (ttsP-RRCA) replication. The leakiness of the ttsP's in nontarget cells was per se highly variable and correlated with levels of nonspecific ttsP-RRCA replication. Transcriptional regulator elements fused to ttsP's showed variable effects: a hypoxic response element reduced leakiness of an alpha-fetoprotein promoter. In contrast, a mouse tyrosinase enhancer increased leakiness of a tyrosinase promoter, although it was not affected by a human tyrosinase enhancer. Furthermore, leakiness of ttsP's was enhanced by 5'-terminal adenoviral E1A enhancers, and adenoviral E1A-13S was found to be a strong transactivator of ttsP's, leading to "autoactivation" of leaky ttsP-RRCAs. In a proof-of-principle study, ttsP-RRCA replication was shown to be inhibited by a tetracycline-controlled transcriptional silencer via direct ttsP silencing. This opens up the prospect of pharmacological regulation of ttsP-RRCAs. Together, these data indicate that leakiness of ttsP's induced by several factors is a major cause of nonspecific ttsP-RRCA replication. Consideration of these factors may help optimize ttsP-dependent RRCA vectors and may thereby improve their safety.

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