Author(s): Wirth T, Khnel F, FleischmannMundt B, Woller N, Djojosubroto M,
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Abstract Hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) are drug-resistant tumors that frequently possess high telomerase activity. It was therefore the aim of our study to investigate the potential of telomerase-dependent virotherapy in multimodal treatment of HCC. In contrast to normal liver, HCC xenografts showed high telomerase activity, resulting in tumor-restricted expression of E1A by a telomerase-dependent replicating adenovirus (hTERT-Ad). Neither tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) or chemotherapy alone nor the combined treatment with both agents resulted in significant destruction of HCC cells. Application of hTERT-Ad at low titers was also not capable to destroy HCC cells, but telomerase-dependent virotherapy overcame the resistance of HCC against TRAIL and chemotherapy. The synergistic effects are explained by a strong down-regulation of Mcl-1 expression through hTERT-Ad that sensitizes HCC for TRAIL- and chemotherapy-mediated apoptosis. To investigate whether down-regulation of Mcl-1 alone is sufficient to explain synergistic effects observed with virotherapy, Mcl-1 expression was inhibited by RNA interference. Treatment with Mcl-1-siRNA significantly enhanced caspase-3 activity after chemotherapy and TRAIL application, confirming that elimination of Mcl-1 is responsible for the drug sensitization by hTERT-Ad. Consistent with these results, heterologous overexpression of Mcl-1 significantly reduced the sensitization of hTERT-Ad transduced cells against apoptosis-inducing agents. Chemotherapy did not interfere with quantitative hTERT-Ad production in HCC cells. Whereas hTERT-Ad virotherapy alone was only capable to inhibit the growth of Hep3B xenografts, virochemotherapy resulted in vast destruction of the drug-resistant HCC. In conclusion our data indicate that telomerase-dependent virotherapy is an attractive strategy to overcome the natural resistance of HCC against anticancer drugs by elimination of Mcl-1.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology