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J Virol. 2013 Jan;87(2):1019-34. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01106-12. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

Highly attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus VSV-12'GFP displays immunogenic and oncolytic activity.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) has shown considerable promise both as an immunization vector and as an oncolytic virus. In both applications, an important concern is the safety profile of the virus. To generate a highly attenuated virus, we added two reporter genes to the 3' end of the VSV genome, thereby shifting the NPMGL genes from positions 1 to 5 to positions 3 to 7. The resulting virus (VSV-12'GFP) was highly attenuated, generating smaller plaques than four other attenuated VSVs. In one-step growth curves, VSV-12'GFP displayed the slowest growth kinetics. The mechanism of attenuation appears to be due to reduced expression of VSV genes downstream of the reporter genes, as suggested by a 10.4-fold reduction in L-protein RNA transcript. Although attenuated, VSV-12'GFP was highly effective at generating an immune response, indicated by a high-titer antibody response against the green fluorescent protein (GFP) expressed by the virus. Although VSV-12'GFP was more attenuated than other VSVs on both normal and cancer cells, it nonetheless showed a greater level of infection of human cancer cells (glioma and melanoma) than of normal cells, and this effect was magnified in glioma by interferon application, indicating selective oncolysis. Intravenous VSV-12'GFP selectively infected human gliomas implanted into SCID mice subcutaneously or intracranially. All postnatal day 16 mice given intranasal VSV-12'GFP survived, whereas only 10% of those given VSV-G/GFP survived, indicating reduced neurotoxicity. Intratumoral injection of tumors with VSV-12'GFP dramatically suppressed tumor growth and enhanced survival. Together these data suggest this recombinant virus merits further study for its oncolytic and vaccine potential.

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