Gene therapy of cancer: Mechanisms of "bystander effect" killing in cells expressing the herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase gene and its potential clinical applications
At the fore-front of cancer research, gene therapy offers the potential to either promote cell death or alter the behavior of tumor-cells. One example makes use of a toxic phenotype generated by the prodrug metabolizing gene, thymidine kinase (HSVtk) from the Herpes Simplex Virus. This gene confers selective toxicity to a relatively nontoxic prodrug, ganciclovir (GCV). Tumor cells transduced with the HSVtk gene are sensitive to 1-50 $\mu$M GCV; normal tissue is insensitive up to 150-250 $\mu$M GCV. Utilizing these different sensitivities, it is possible to selectively ablate tumor cells expressing this gene. Interestingly, if a HSVtk$\sp+$ expressing population is mixed with a HSVtk$\sp-$ population at high density, all the cells are killed after GCV administration. This phenomenon for killing all neighboring cells is termed the "bystander effect", which is well documented in HSVtk$\sp-$ GCV systems, though its exact mechanism of action is unclear. Using the mouse colon carcinoma cell line CT26, data are presented supporting possible mechanisms of "bystander effect" killing of neighboring CT26-tk$\sp-$cells. A major requirement for bystander killing is the prodrug GCV: as dead or dying CT26tk$\sp+$ cells have no toxic effect on neighboring cells in its absence. In vitro, it appears the bystander effect is due to transfer of toxic GCV-metabolites, through verapamil sensitive intracellular-junctions. Additionally, possible transfer of the HSVtk enzyme to bystander cells after GCV addition, may play a role in bystander killing. A nude mouse model suggests that in a 50/50 (tk$\sp+$/tk$\sp-$) mixture of CT26 cells the bystander eradication of tumors does not involve an immune component. Additionally in a possible clinical application, the "bystander effect" can be directly exploited to eradicate preexisting CT26 colon carcinomas in mice by intratumoral implantation of viable or lethally irradiated CT26tk$\sp+$ cells and subsequent GCV administration. Lastly, an application of this toxic phenotype gene to a clinical marking protocol utilizing a recombinant adenoviral vector carrying the bifunctional protein GAL-TEK to eradicate spontaneously-arisen or vaccine-induced fibrosarcomas in cats is demonstrated.
Molecular biology|Cellular biology
Marini, Frank C., "Gene therapy of cancer: Mechanisms of "bystander effect" killing in cells expressing the herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase gene and its potential clinical applications" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9535040.