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Oncolytic viruses are regulated by the tumor phenotype to replicate and lyse cancer cells selectively. To identify optimal strategies for breast cancer we compared five adenoviruses with distinct regulatory mechanisms: Ad-dl922-947 (targets G1-S checkpoint); Ad-Onyx-015 and Ad-Onyx-017 (target p53/mRNA export); Ad-vKH1 (targets Wnt pathway), and AdEHE2F (targets estrogen receptor/G1-S checkpoint/hypoxic signaling). The quantity of virus required to kill 50% of breast cancer cells after 6 days (EC(50), plaque-forming units per cell) was measured. The most potent virus was Ad-dl922-947 (EC(50), 0.01-5.4 in SkBr3, MDA-231, MDA-468, MCF7, and ZR75.1 cells), followed by wild-type (Ad-WT; EC(50), 0.3-5.5) and AdEHE2F (EC(50), 1.4-3.9). Ad-vKH1 (EC(50), 7.2-72.1), Ad-Onyx-017 (EC(50), 8.4-167), and Ad-Onyx-015 (EC(50), 17.7-377) showed less activity. Most viruses showed limited cytotoxicity in normal human cells, including breast epithelium MCF10A (EC(50), >722) and fibroblasts (EC(50), >192) and only moderate cytotoxicity in normal microvascular endothelial cells (HMVECs; EC(50), 42.8-149), except Ad-dl922-947, which was active in HMVECs (EC(50), 1.6). After injection into MDA-231 xenografts, Ad-WT, AdEHE2F, and Ad-dl922-947 showed replication, assessed by hexon staining and quantitative polymerase chain reaction measurement of viral DNA, and significantly inhibited tumor growth, leading to extended survival. After intravenous injection Ad-dl922-947 showed DNA replication (233% of the injected dose was measured in liver after 3 days) whereas AdEHE2F did not. Overall, AdEHE2F showed the best combination of low toxicity in normal cells and high activity in breast cancer in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that molecular targeting using estrogen response elements, hypoxia response elements, and a dysregulated G1-S checkpoint is a promising strategy for virotherapy of breast cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Gene Ther

Publication Date





873 - 886


Adenoviruses, Human, Animals, Base Sequence, Breast Neoplasms, Cell Cycle, Cell Death, Cell Line, Cell Line, Tumor, DNA Primers, Female, Humans, Mice, Mice, SCID, Neoplasm Transplantation, Oncolytic Virotherapy, Oncolytic Viruses, Transplantation, Heterologous, Virus Replication