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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Tumor cell-specific transgene expression prevents liver toxicity of the adeno-HSVtk/GCV approach.

Treatment of colorectal liver metastases with the HSVtk/GCV approach and adenoviral vectors is highly toxic. We present a nontoxic alternative using the cell type-specific CEA promoter instead of the widely used hCMV immediate-early promoter to drive tk gene expression in the context of a recombinant adenovirus. Analysis of CEA promoter-dependent tk gene expression showed significant activity of this promoter in several human and rat tumor-derived cell lines but not in rat primary hepatocytes and in mouse liver, whereas the CMV promoter was highly active in all cell types and tissues investigated. CEA promoter-dependent tk gene expression was sufficient to kill 100% of cancer cells in vitro, even if less than 10% were infected by the adenoviral vector, indicating a significant bystander effect. Moreover, treatment of subcutaneous tumors in SCID mice with Ad.CEA-tk led to a several-fold reduction of tumor growth, and tail vein injection of a high dose of Ad.CEA-tk caused no side-effects in the liver. The CMV promoter was more potent than the CEA promoter in mediating GCV sensitivity to cancer cells in vitro and in vivo, but even a 20-fold reduction of the dose of Ad.CMV-tk did not prevent its liver cell toxicity after systemic application to mice and still resulted in the death of all animals within 4 days after the start of GCV treatment. These results indicate that restriction of tk gene expression to tumor cells in the liver prevents systemic toxicity. Moreover, the CEA promoter is a safe and efficient tool for tumor cell-specific expression of suicide genes in the liver.[1]


  1. Tumor cell-specific transgene expression prevents liver toxicity of the adeno-HSVtk/GCV approach. Brand, K., Löser, P., Arnold, W., Bartels, T., Strauss, M. Gene Ther. (1998) [Pubmed]
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