Author(s): Feng WH, Hong G, Delecluse HJ, Kenney SC
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Abstract A novel therapy for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive tumors involves the intentional induction of the lytic form of EBV infection combined with ganciclovir (GCV) treatment. Virally encoded kinases (thymidine kinase and BGLF4) which are expressed only during the lytic form of infection convert GCV (a nucleoside analogue) into its active, cytotoxic form. However, tightly latent EBV infection in B cells has made it difficult to identify drugs that can be used clinically to induce lytic viral infection in B-cell lymphomas. Here we demonstrate that gemcitabine and doxorubicin (but not 5-azacytidine, cis-platinum, or 5-fluorouracil) induce lytic EBV infection in EBV-transformed B cells in vitro and in vivo. Gemcitabine and doxorubicin both activated transcription from the promoters of the two viral immediate-early genes, BZLF1 and BRLF1, in EBV-negative B cells. This effect required the EGR-1 motif in the BRLF1 promoter and the CRE (ZII) and MEF-2D (ZI) binding sites in the BZLF1 promoter. GCV enhanced cell killing by gemcitabine or doxorubicin in lymphoblastoid cells transformed with wild-type EBV, but not in lymphoblastoid cells transformed by a mutant virus (with a deletion in the BZLF1 immediate-early gene) that is unable to enter the lytic form of infection. Most importantly, the combination of gemcitabine or doxorubicin and GCV was significantly more effective for the inhibition of EBV-driven lymphoproliferative disease in SCID mice than chemotherapy alone. In contrast, the combination of zidovudine and gemcitabine was no more effective than gemcitabine alone. These results suggest that the addition of GCV to either gemcitabine- or doxorubicin-containing chemotherapy regimens may enhance the therapeutic efficacy of these drugs for EBV-driven lymphoproliferative disease in patients.
This article was published in J Virol
and referenced in Medicinal Chemistry