Breast cancer gene therapy using an adenovirus encoding human IL-2 under control of mammaglobin promoter/enhancer sequences

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Abstract

Interleukin-2 (IL-2) has been used clinically for the treatment of some malignancies, but the toxicities associated with systemic IL-2 therapy are a major challenge. Here we have determined whether transcriptional targeting of IL-2 to breast cancer (BrCa) using an engineered human mammaglobin promoter/enhancer (MPE2) is a feasible option for reducing IL-2-associated toxicities while still achieving a meaningful antitumor effect. We have constructed nonreplicating adenovirus vectors encoding either a reporter gene (luciferase) or human IL-2 (hIL-2) complementary DNA under control of the MPE2 sequence, the murine cytomegalovirus immediate early (MCMV) promoter or the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) promoter. Luciferase and hIL-2 complementary DNAs under the control of the MPE2 sequence in adenovirus vectors were expressed at high levels in BrCa cells and at lower levels in normal cells of human and murine origin. Cancer specificity of the hTERT promoter was found to be similar to that of the MPE2 promoter in cells of human origin, but reduced specificity in murine cells. The MPE2 regulatory sequence demonstrated excellent tissue specificity in a mouse tumor model. Whereas the MCMV promoter-controlled IL-2 vector generated high liver toxicity in mice, the MPE2-controlled IL-2 vector generated little or no liver toxicity. Both IL-2 vectors exerted significant tumor growth delay; however, attempts to further enhance antitumor activity of the IL-2 vectors by combining with the proapoptotic drug procaspase activating compound 1 (PAC1) were unsuccessful.

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