Expression of the fusogenic p14 FAST protein from a replication-defective adenovirus vector does not provide a therapeutic benefit in an immunocompetent mouse model of cancer

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When injected directly into a tumor mass, adenovirus (Ad) vectors only transduce cells immediately along the injection tract. Expression of fusogenic proteins from the Ad vector can lead to syncytium formation, which efficiently spreads the therapeutic effect. Fusogenic proteins can also cause cancer cell death directly, and enhance the release of exosome-like particles containing tumor-associated antigens, which boosts the anti-tumor immune response. In this study, we have examined whether delivery of an early region 1 (E1)-deleted, replication-defective Ad vector encoding the reptilian reovirus p14 fusion-associated small transmembrane (FAST) protein can provide therapeutic efficacy in an immunocompetent mouse tumor model. A high multiplicity of infection of AdFAST is required to induce cell fusion in mouse mammary carcinoma 4T1 cells in vitro, and FAST protein expression caused a modest reduction in cell membrane integrity and metabolic activity compared with cells infected with a control vector. Cells expressing FAST protein released significantly higher quantities of exosomes. In immunocompetent Balb/C mice harboring subcutaneous 4T1 tumors, AdFAST did not induce detectable cancer cell fusion, promote tumor regression or prolong mouse survival compared with untreated mice. This study suggests that in the context of the 4T1 model, Ad-mediated FAST protein expression did not elicit a therapeutic effect.

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