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Cancer Biol Ther. 2008 Sep;7(9):1368-73. Epub 2008 Sep 2.

Apoptin induces apoptosis in an oral cancer mouse model.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Apoptin, a chicken anemia virus-derived protein, induces apoptosis in various tumor cell lines and xenografted tumors. Its apoptotic activity is not hampered by tumor-suppressor p53 mutations or overexpression of anti-apoptosis proteins Bcl-2 or Bcl-x(L). We report for the first time the effects of apoptin expression in primary oral tumors, induced by the carcinogen 4-Nitroquinoline- 1-oxide in immunocompetent mice. In vivo a significant amount of primary oral tumor cells expressing apoptin cells underwent apoptosis, whereas synthesis of the LacZ control product did not. Ectopical expression of apoptin in passage 1 cell cultures derived from these oral tumors also resulted in apoptin-induced. Both in-vivo and in-vitro treated cells underwent apoptosis via the activation of caspase-3. The fact that apoptin induces apoptosis in primary squamous cell carcinoma cells indicates that apoptin is a potential therapeutic agent for treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

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