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PLoS One. 2016 Jun 20;11(6):e0157865. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157865. eCollection 2016.

Gene Therapy for Human Lung Adenocarcinoma Using a Suicide Gene Driven by a Lung-Specific Promoter Delivered by JC Virus-Like Particles.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, National Chung Cheng University, Chiayi, Taiwan.
Department of Pediatrics, Ditmanson Medical Foundation Chiayi Christian Hospital, Chiayi, Taiwan.
Department of Urology, Ditmanson Medical Foundation Chiayi Christian Hospital, Chiayi, Taiwan.
Department of Medical Research, Ditmanson Medical Foundation Chiayi Christian Hospital, Chiayi, Taiwan.
Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Health and Nutrition Biotechnology, Asia University, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.


Lung adenocarcinoma, the most commonly diagnosed type of lung cancer, has a poor prognosis even with combined surgery, chemotherapy, or molecular targeted therapies. Most patients are diagnosed with an in-operable advanced or metastatic disease, both pointing to the necessity of developing effective therapies for lung adenocarcinoma. Surfactant protein B (SP-B) has been found to be overexpressed in lung adenocarcinoma. In addition, it has also been demonstrated that human lung adenocarcinoma cells are susceptible to the JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) infection. Therefore, we designed that the JCPyV virus-like particle (VLP) packaged with an SP-B promoter-driven thymidine kinase suicide gene (pSPB-tk) for possible gene therapy of human lung adenocarcinoma. Plasmids expressing the GFP (pSPB-gfp) or thymidine kinase gene (pSPB-tk) under the control of the human SP-B promoter were constructed. The promoter's tissue specificity was tested by transfection of pSPB-gfp into A549, CH27, and H460 human lung carcinoma cells and non-lung cells. The JCPyV VLP's gene transfer efficiency and the selective cytotoxicity of pSPB-tk combined with ganciclovir (GCV) were tested in vitro and in a xenograft mouse model. In the current study, we found that SP-B promoter-driven GFP was specifically expressed in human lung adenocarcinoma (A549) and large cell carcinoma (H460) cells. JCPyV VLPs were able to deliver a GFP reporter gene into A549 cells for expression. Selective cytotoxicity was observed in A549 but not non-lung cells that were transfected with pSPB-tk or infected with pSPB-tk-carrying JCPyV VLPs. In mice injected with pSPB-tk-carrying JCPyV VLPs through the tail vein and treated with ganciclovir (GCV), a potent 80% inhibition of growth of human lung adenocarcinoma nodules resulted. The JCPyV VLPs combined with the use of SP-B promoter demonstrates effectiveness as a potential gene therapy against human lung adenocarcinoma.

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