Noninvasive theranostic imaging of HSV1-sr39TK-NTR/GCV-CB1954 dual-prodrug therapy in metastatic lung lesions of MDA-MB-231 triple negative breast cancer in mice.
ABSTRACT: Metastatic breast cancer is an obdurate cancer type that is not amenable to chemotherapy regimens currently used in clinic. There is a desperate need for alternative therapies to treat this resistant cancer type. Gene-Directed Enzyme Prodrug Therapy (GDEPT) is a superior gene therapy method when compared to chemotherapy and radiotherapy procedures, proven to be effective against many types of cancer in pre-clinical evaluations and clinical trials. Gene therapy that utilizes a single enzyme/prodrug combination targeting a single cellular mechanism needs significant overexpression of delivered therapeutic gene in order to achieve therapy response. Hence, to overcome this obstacle we recently developed a dual therapeutic reporter gene fusion that uses two different prodrugs, targeting two distinct cellular mechanisms in order to achieve effective therapy with a limited expression of delivered transgenes. In addition, imaging therapeutic reporter genes offers additional information that indirectly correlates gene delivery, expression, and functional effectiveness as a theranostic approach. In the present study, we evaluate the therapeutic potential of HSV1-sr39TK-NTR fusion dual suicide gene therapy system that we recently developed, in MDA-MB-231 triple negative breast cancer lung-metastatic lesions in a mouse model. We compared the therapeutic potential of HSV1-sr39TK-NTR fusion with respective dual prodrugs GCV-CB1954 with HSV1-sr39TK/GCV and NTR/CB1954 single enzyme prodrug system in this highly resistant metastatic lesion of the lungs. In vitro optimization of dose and duration of exposure to GCV and CB1954 was performed in MDA-MB-231 cells. Drug combinations of 1 ?g/ml GCV and 10 ?M CB1954 for 3 days was found to be optimal regimen for induction of significant cell death, as assessed by FACS analysis. In vivo therapeutic evaluation in animal models showed a complete ablation of lung metastatic nodules of MDA-MB-231 triple negative breast cancer cells following two consecutive doses of a combination of GCV (40 mg/kg) and CB1954 (40 mg/kg) administered at 5 day intervals. In contrast, the respective treatment condition in animals expressing HSV1-sr39TK or NTR separately, showed minimal or no effect on tumor reduction as measured by bioluminescence (tumor mass) and [(18)F]-FHBG microPET (TK expression) imaging. These highlight the strong therapeutic effect of the dual fusion prodrug therapy and its use in theranostic imaging of tumor monitoring in living animals by multimodality molecular imaging.
Project description:AIM:Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive breast cancer subtype. Since no targeted therapy is available, gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (GDEPT) could be an attractive strategy for treating TNBC. MATERIALS & METHODS:Polyethylene glycol (PEG)ylated-poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)/polyethyleneimine nanoparticles (PLGA/PEI NPs) were synthesized and complexed with TK-NTR fusion gene. Ultrasound (US) and microbubble (MB) mediated sonoporation was used for efficient delivery of the TK-NTR-DNA-NP complex to TNBC tumor in vivo for cancer therapy. Therapeutic effect was evaluated by treating TNBC cells in vitro and tumor xenograft in vivo by using prodrugs ganciclovir (GCV) and CB1954. RESULTS:TNBC cells treated with GCV/CB1954 prodrugs after transfection of TK-NTR-DNA by PEGylated-PLGA/PEI NP resulted in high apoptotic-index. US-MB image-guided delivery of TK-NTR-DNA-NP complex displayed significant expression level of TK-NTR protein and showed tumor reduction when treated with GCV/CB1954 prodrugs in TNBC xenograft in vivo. CONCLUSION:US-MB image-guided delivery of TK-NTR gene by PEGylated-PLGA/PEI NPs could be a potential prodrug therapy for TNBC in the clinic.
Project description:Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer in both men and women and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths. Suicide gene-based therapy with suicide gene-transduced mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is a promising therapeutic strategy. A tetracycline-controlled Tet-On inducible system used to regulate gene expression may be a useful tool for gene-based therapies. The aim of this study was to develop therapeutic MSCs with a suicide gene that is induced by an artificial stimulus, to validate therapeutic gene expression, and to monitor the MSC therapy for colon cancer using optical molecular imaging. For our study, we designed the Tet-On system using a retroviral vector and developed a response plasmid RetroX-TRE (tetracycline response element) expressing a mutant form of herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSV1-sr39TK) with dual reporters (eGFP-Fluc2). Bone marrow-derived MSCs were transduced using a RetroX-Tet3G (Clontech, CA, USA) regulatory plasmid and RetroX-TRE-HSV1-sr39TK-eGFP-IRES-Fluc2, for a system with a Tet-On (MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc2 or MSC-Tet-TK) or without a Tet-On (MSC-TK/Fluc2 or MSC-TK) function. Suicide gene engineered MSCs were co-cultured with colon cancer cells (CT26/Rluc) in the presence of the prodrug ganciclovir (GCV) after stimulation with or without doxycycline (DOX). Treatment efficiency was monitored by assessing Rluc (CT26/Rluc) and Fluc (MSC-Tet-TK and MSC-TK) activity using optical imaging. The bystander effect of therapeutic MSCs was confirmed in CT26/Rluc cells after GCV treatment. Rluc activity in CT26/Rluc cells decreased significantly with GCV treatment of DOX(+) cells (p < 0.05 and 0.01) whereas no significant changes were observed in DOX(-) cells. In addition, Fluc activity in also decreased significantly with DOX(+) MSC-Tet-TK cells, but no signal was observed in DOX(-) cells. In addition, an MSC-TK bystander effect was also confirmed. We assessed therapy with this system in a colon cancer xenograft model (CT26/Rluc). We successfully transduced cells and developed a Tet-On system with the suicide gene HSV1-sr39TK. Our results confirmed the therapeutic efficiency of a suicide gene with the Tet-On system for colon cancer. In addition, our results provide an innovative therapeutic approach using the Tet-On system to eradicate tumors by administration of MSC-Tet-TK cells with DOX and GCV.
Project description:Prodrug activator gene therapy mediated by murine leukemia virus (MLV)-based retroviral replicating vectors (RRV) was previously shown to be highly effective in killing glioma cells both in culture and in vivo. To avoid receptor interference and enable dual vector co-infection with MLV-RRV, we have developed another RRV based on gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV) that also shows robust replicative spread in a wide variety of tumor cells. We evaluated the potential of GALV-based RRV as a cancer therapeutic agent by incorporating yeast cytosine deaminase (CD) and E. coli nitroreductase (NTR) prodrug activator genes into the vector. The expression of CD and NTR genes from GALV-RRV achieved highly efficient delivery of these prodrug activator genes to RG-2 glioma cells, resulting in enhanced cytotoxicity after administering their respective prodrugs 5-fluorocytosine and CB1954 in vitro. In an immune-competent intracerebral RG-2 glioma model, GALV-mediated CD and NTR gene therapy both significantly suppressed tumor growth with CB1954 administration after a single injection of vector supernatant. However, NTR showed greater potency than CD, with control animals receiving GALV-NTR vector alone (i.e., without CB1954 prodrug) showing extensive tumor growth with a median survival time of 17.5 days, while animals receiving GALV-NTR and CB1954 showed significantly prolonged survival with a median survival time of 30 days. In conclusion, GALV-RRV enabled high-efficiency gene transfer and persistent expression of NTR, resulting in efficient cell killing, suppression of tumor growth, and prolonged survival upon CB1954 administration. This validates the use of therapeutic strategies employing this prodrug activator gene to arm GALV-RRV, and opens the door to the possibility of future combination gene therapy with CD-armed MLV-RRV, as the latter vector is currently being evaluated in clinical trials.
Project description:The herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase/ganciclovir (HSV-sr39tk/GCV) system is a well-established prodrug system used in cancer gene therapy. However, this system is currently not effective enough to eradicate malignant tumors completely. This study aimed to evaluate whether co-expression of interleukin-3 (IL-3) could enhance the anti-tumor activity of HSV-sr39tk/GCV prodrug gene therapy using a murine TRAMP-C1 prostate tumor model. In vitro results demonstrated that HSV-sr39tk-transfected cells exhibited enhanced sensitivity to the GCV prodrug, which was not affected by co-expression of the mIL-3 gene. However, in vivo studies showed that co-expression of the mIL-3 gene significantly increased the HSV-sr39tk/GCV-induced tumor growth delay and even cured the tumor. The TRAMP-C1-specific immune response of spleen lymphocytes from mice bearing HSV-sr39tk- and IL-3-expressing TRAMP-C1 tumors was measured by ELISA. Results showed that IL-3-activated IL-4-dominant lymphocytes became IFN-?- dominant lymphocytes after combined HSV-sr39tk/GCV therapy. The efficacy of combined therapies on tumor regression was reduced when macrophages populations were depleted by carrageenan or NO production was inhibited by administration of the iNOS inhibitor, L-NAME. These results suggest that utilizing a bicistronic vector to express HSV-sr39tk and the IL-3 gene induced an enhanced macrophage- or NO-dependent anti-tumor effect.
Project description:Over the past decade, various enzyme/prodrug systems such as thymidine kinase/ganciclovir (TK/GCV), yeast cytosine deaminase/5-fluorocytosine (yCD/5-FC) and nitroreductase/CB1954 (NTR/CB1954) have been used for stem cell mediated suicide gene therapy of cancer. Yet, no study has been conducted to compare and demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of using one system over another. Knowing that each enzyme/prodrug system has its own strengths and weaknesses, we utilized mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a medium to perform for the first time a comparative study that illustrated the impact of subtle differences among these systems on the therapeutic outcome. For therapeutic purposes, we first genetically modified MSCs to stably express a panel of four suicide genes including TK (TK007 and TK(SR39) mutants), yeast cytosine deaminase:uracil phosphoribosyltransferase (yCD:UPRT) and nitroreductase (NTR). Then, we evaluated the anticancer efficacies of the genetically engineered MSCs in vitro and in vivo by using SKOV3 cell line which is sensitive to all four enzyme/prodrug systems. In addition, all MSCs were engineered to stably express luciferase gene making them suitable for quantitative imaging and dose-response relationship studies in animals. Considering the limitations imposed by the prodrugs' bystander effects, our findings show that yCD:UPRT/5-FC is the most effective enzyme/prodrug system among the ones tested. Our findings also demonstrate that theranostic MSCs are a reliable medium for the side-by-side evaluation and screening of the enzyme/prodrug systems at the preclinical level. The results of this study could help scientists who utilize cell-based, non-viral or viral vectors for suicide gene therapy of cancer make more informed decisions when choosing enzyme/prodrug systems.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The nitroreductase/5-(azaridin-1-yl)-2,4-dinitrobenzamide (NTR/CB1954) enzyme/prodrug system is considered as a promising candidate for anti-cancer strategies by gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (GDEPT) and has recently entered clinical trials. It requires the genetic modification of tumor cells to express the E. coli enzyme nitroreductase that bioactivates the prodrug CB1954 to a powerful cytotoxin. This metabolite causes apoptotic cell death by DNA interstrand crosslinking. Enhancing the enzymatic NTR activity for CB1954 should improve the therapeutical potential of this enzyme-prodrug combination in cancer gene therapy. METHODS: We performed de novo synthesis of the bacterial nitroreductase gene adapting codon usage to mammalian preferences. The synthetic gene was investigated for its expression efficacy and ability to sensitize mammalian cells to CB1954 using western blotting analysis and cytotoxicity assays. RESULTS: In our study, we detected cytoplasmic protein aggregates by expressing GFP-tagged NTR in COS-7 cells, suggesting an impaired translation by divergent codon usage between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Therefore, we generated a synthetic variant of the nitroreductase gene, called ntro, adapted for high-level expression in mammalian cells. A total of 144 silent base substitutions were made within the bacterial ntr gene to change its codon usage to mammalian preferences. The codon-optimized ntro either tagged to gfp or c-myc showed higher expression levels in mammalian cell lines. Furthermore, the ntro rendered several cell lines ten times more sensitive to the prodrug CB1954 and also resulted in an improved bystander effect. CONCLUSION: Our results show that codon optimization overcomes expression limitations of the bacterial ntr gene in mammalian cells, thereby improving the NTR/CB1954 system at translational level for cancer gene therapy in humans.
Project description:Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is the most aggressive malignancy of the thyroid, during which undifferentiated tumors arise from the thyroid follicular epithelium. ATC has a very poor prognosis due to its aggressive behavior and poor response to conventional therapies. Gene-directed enzyme/prodrug therapy using genetically engineered mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) is a promising therapeutic strategy. The doxycycline (DOX)-controlled Tet inducible system is the most widely utilized regulatory system and could be a useful tool for therapeutic gene-based therapies. For example, use a synthetic "tetracycline-on" switch system to control the expression of the therapeutic gene thymidine kinase, which converts prodrugs to active drugs. The aim of this study was to develop therapeutic MSCs, harboring an inducible suicide gene, and to validate therapeutic gene expression using optical molecular imaging of ATC. We designed the Tet-On system using a retroviral vector expressing herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSV1-sr39TK) with dual reporters (eGFP-Fluc2). Mouse bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSC) were transduced using this system with (MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc2) or without (MSC-TK/Fluc) the Tet-On system. Transduced cells were screened and characterized. Engineered MSCs were co-cultured with ATC (CAL62/Rluc) cells in the presence of the prodrug ganciclovir (GCV) and stimulated with DOX. The efficiency of cell killing monitored by assessing Rluc (CAL62/Rluc) and Fluc (MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc and MSC-TK/Fluc) activities using IVIS imaging. Fluc activity increased in MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc cells in a dose dependent manner following DOX treatment (R2 = 0.95), whereas no signal was observed in untreated cells. eGFP could also be visualized after induction with DOX, and the HSV1-TK protein could be detected by western blotting. In MSC-TK/Fluc cells, the Fluc activity increased with increasing cell number (R2 = 0.98), and eGFP could be visualized by fluorescence microscopy. The Fluc activity and cell viability of MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc and MSC-TK/Fluc cells decreased significantly following GCV treatment. A bystander effect of the therapeutic cells confirmed in co-cultures of CAL62 cells, an anaplastic thyroid cancer cell line, with either MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc cells or MSC-TK/Fluc cells. The Rluc activity in MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc co-cultures, derived from the CAL62/Rluc cells, decreased significantly with GCV treatment of DOX treated cultures, whereas no significant changes were observed in untreated cultures. In addition, the Fluc activity of MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc cells also decreased significantly with DOX treatment whereas no signal was present in untreated cultures. A bystander effect also be demonstrated in co-cultures with MSC-TK/Fluc cells and CAL62/Rluc; both the Rluc activity and the Fluc activity were significantly decreased following GCV treatment. We have successfully developed a Tet-On system of gene-directed enzyme/prodrug delivery using MSCs. We confirmed the therapeutic bystander effect in CAL62/Rluc cells with respect to MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc and MSC-TK/Fluc cells after GCV treatment with and without DOX. Our results confirm the therapeutic efficiency of a suicide gene, with or without the Tet-On system, for ATC therapy. In addition, our findings provide an innovative therapeutic approach for using the Tet-On system to eradicate tumors by simple, repeated administration of MSC-Tet-TK/Fluc cells with DOX and GCV.
Project description:CB1954 is an anticancer prodrug that is currently in clinical trials coupled with the Escherichia coli flavoenzyme nitroreductase (NTR) for use in directed-enzyme prodrug therapy (DEPT). The NTR enzyme is responsible for the conversion of the prodrug into a cytotoxic agent. The bifunctional alkylating agent produced by this bioactivation process leads to DNA damage and death of cancer cells. Recently, a novel flavoenzyme from Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, YwrO (Bam YwrO), was reported to be able to reduce CB1954 from its noncytotoxic form into its active form. The crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of two crystal forms of Bam YwrO are reported. The first crystal form is orthorhombic, with space group P22(1)2(1), and diffracts X-rays to 2.18 A resolution. The second crystal form is tetragonal, with space group P4(1), and diffracts X-rays to 3.4 A. Determination of the Bam YwrO crystal structure will provide an understanding of the molecular recognition between this enzyme and the anticancer prodrug CB1954.
Project description:Spores of some species of the strictly anaerobic bacteria Clostridium naturally target and partially lyse the hypoxic cores of tumors, which tend to be refractory to conventional therapies. The anti-tumor effect can be augmented by engineering strains to convert a non-toxic prodrug into a cytotoxic drug specifically at the tumor site by expressing a prodrug-converting enzyme (PCE). Safe doses of the favored prodrug CB1954 lead to peak concentrations of 6.3 µM in patient sera, but at these concentration(s) known nitroreductase (NTR) PCEs for this prodrug show low activity. Furthermore, efficacious and safe Clostridium strains that stably express a PCE have not been reported. Here we identify a novel nitroreductase from Neisseria meningitidis, NmeNTR, which is able to activate CB1954 at clinically-achievable serum concentrations. An NmeNTR expression cassette, which does not contain an antibiotic resistance marker, was stably localized to the chromosome of Clostridium sporogenes using a new integration method, and the strain was disabled for safety and containment by making it a uracil auxotroph. The efficacy of Clostridium-Directed Enzyme Prodrug Therapy (CDEPT) using this system was demonstrated in a mouse xenograft model of human colon carcinoma. Substantial tumor suppression was achieved, and several animals were cured. These encouraging data suggest that the novel enzyme and strain engineering approach represent a promising platform for the clinical development of CDEPT.
Project description:Background:Glioblastoma (GBM) is an aggressive and highly vascular tumor with median survival below 2 years. Despite advances in surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, survival has improved modestly. To combat glioma vascular proliferation, anti-angiogenic agents targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were introduced. Preclinically these agents were effective, yet they did not improve overall survival in phase III trials. We tested the hypothesis that ganciclovir (GCV)-mediated killing of proliferating endothelial cells expressing herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase (HSV1-TK) would have direct antitumor effects, and whether vessel ablation would affect the antitumor activity of anti-VEGF antibodies and radiotherapy. Methods:Proliferating endothelial cells were eliminated using GCV-mediated killing of proliferating endothelial cells expressing HSV1-TK (in Tie2-TK-IRES-GFP mice). Syngeneic NRAS/p53 (NP) gliomas were implanted into the brains of Tie2-TK-IRES-GFP mice. Endothelial proliferation activates the Tie2 promoter and HSV1-TK expression. Administration of GCV kills proliferating tumor endothelial cells and slows tumor growth. The effects of endothelial cell ablation on anti-angiogenic therapy were examined using anti-VEGF antibodies or irradiation. Results:GCV administration reduced tumor growth and vascular density, increased tumor apoptosis, and prolonged survival. Anti-VEGF antibodies or irradiation also prolonged survival. Surprisingly, combining GCV with irradiation, or with anti-VEGF antibodies, reduced their individual therapeutic effects. Conclusion:GCV-mediated killing of proliferating endothelial cells expressing HSV1-TK, anti-VEGF antibodies, or irradiation all reduced growth of a murine glioma. However, elimination of microvascular proliferation decreased the efficacy of anti-VEGF or irradiation therapy. We conclude that, in our model, the integrity of proliferating vessels is necessary for the antiglioma effects of anti-VEGF and radiation therapy.