Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 Aug;8(8):2383-91. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0110. Epub 2009 Aug 11.

A heterotypic bystander effect for tumor cell killing after adeno-associated virus/phage-mediated, vascular-targeted suicide gene transfer.

Author information

Department of Oncology and Hematology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.


Suicide gene transfer is the most commonly used cytotoxic approach in cancer gene therapy; however, a successful suicide gene therapy depends on the generation of efficient targeted systemic gene delivery vectors. We recently reported that selective systemic delivery of suicide genes such as herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSVtk) to tumor endothelial cells through a novel targeted adeno-associated virus/phage vector leads to suppression of tumor growth. This marked effect has been postulated to result primarily from the death of cancer cells by hypoxia following the targeted disruption of tumor blood vessels. Here, we investigated whether an additional mechanism of action is involved. We show that there is a heterotypic "bystander" effect between endothelial cells expressing the HSVtk suicide gene and tumor cells. Treatment of cocultures of HSVtk-transduced endothelial cells and non-HSVtk-transduced tumor cells with ganciclovir results in the death of both endothelial and tumor cells. Blocking of this effect by 18alpha-glycyrrhetinic acid indicates that gap junctions between endothelial and tumor cells are largely responsible for this phenomenon. Moreover, the observed bystander killing is mediated by connexins 43 and 26, which are expressed in endothelial and tumor cell types. Finally, this heterotypic bystander effect is accompanied by a suppression of tumor growth in vivo that is independent of primary gene transfer into host-derived tumor vascular endothelium. These findings add an alternative nonmutually exclusive and potentially synergistic cytotoxic mechanism to cancer gene therapy based on targeted adeno-associated virus/phage and further support the promising role of nonmalignant tumor stromal cells as therapeutic targets.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center