Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a negative-stranded RNA virus normally sensitive to the antiviral actions of alpha/beta interferon (IFN-α/β). Recently, we reported that VSV replicates to high levels in many transformed cells due, in part, to susceptible cells harboring defects in the IFN system. These observations were exploited to demonstrate that VSV can be used as a viral oncolytic agent to eradicate malignant cells in vivo while leaving normal tissue relatively unaffected. To attempt to improve the specificity and efficacy of this system as a potential tool in gene therapy and against malignant disease, we have genetically engineered VSV that expresses the murine IFN-β gene. The resultant virus (VSV-IFNβ) was successfully propagated in cells not receptive to murine IFN-α/β and expressed high levels of functional heterologous IFN-β. In normal murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), the growth of VSV-IFNβ was greatly reduced and diminished cytopathic effect was observed due to the production of recombinant IFN-β, which by functioning in a manner involving autocrine and paracrine mechanisms induced an antiviral effect, preventing virus growth. However, VSV-IFNβ grew to high levels and induced the rapid apoptosis of transformed cells due to defective IFN pathways being prevalent and thus unable to initiate proficient IFN-mediated host defense. Importantly, VSV expressing the human IFN-β gene (VSV-hIFNβ) behaved comparably and, while nonlytic to normal human cells, readily killed their malignant counterparts. Similar to our in vitro observations, following intravenous and intranasal inoculation in mice, recombinant VSV (rVSV)-IFNβ was also significantly attenuated compared to wild-type VSV or rVSV expressing green fluorescent protein. However, VSV-IFNβ retained propitious oncolytic activity against metastatic lung disease in immunocompetent animals and was able to generate robust antitumor T-cell responses. Our data indicate that rVSV designed to exploit defects in mechanisms of host defense can provide the basis for new generations of effective, specific, and safer viral vectors for the treatment of malignant and other disease.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), a negative-strand RNA rhabdovirus, preferentially replicates in and eradicates transformed versus nontransformed cells and is thus being considered for use as a potential anticancer treatment. The genetic malleability of VSV also affords an opportunity to develop more potent agents that exhibit increased therapeutic activity. The tumor suppressor p53 has been shown to exert potent antitumor properties, which may in part involve stimulating host innate immune responses to malignancies. To evaluate whether VSV expressing p53 exhibited enhanced oncolytic action, the murine p53 (mp53) gene was incorporated into recombinant VSVs with or without a functional viral M gene-encoded protein that could either block (VSV-mp53) or enable [VSV-M(mut)-mp53] host mRNA export following infection of susceptible cells. Our results indicated that VSV-mp53 and VSV-M(mut)-mp53 expressed high levels of functional p53 and retained the ability to lyse transformed versus normal cells. In addition, we observed that VSV-ΔM-mp53 was extremely attenuated in vivo due to p53 activating innate immune genes, such as type I interferon (IFN). Significantly, immunocompetent animals with metastatic mammary adenocarcinoma exhibited increased survival following treatment with a single inoculation of VSV-ΔM-mp53, the mechanisms of which involved enhanced CD49b+ NK and tumor-specific CD8+ T cell responses. Our data indicate that VSV incorporating p53 could provide a safe, effective strategy for the design of VSV oncolytic therapeutics and VSV-based vaccines.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a novel, anti-cancer therapy that selectively targets cancer cells with defective antiviral responses; however, not all malignant cells are sensitive to the oncolytic effects of VSV. Herein, we explore the mechanistic determinants of mutant M protein VSV (M51R-VSV) susceptibility in malignant melanoma cells.
Cell viability after VSV infection was measured by the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium (MTS) viability assay in a panel of melanoma cell lines. VSV infectability, viral protein synthesis and viral progeny production were quantified by flow cytometry, 35S-methionine electrophoresis, and viral plaque assays, respectively. Interferon (IFN) responsiveness was determined using MTS assay after β-IFN pre-treatment. Xenografts were established in athymic nude mice and treated with intratumoral M51R-VSV.
Cell viability after M51R-VSV infection at a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 10 pfu/mL, 48 hours post-infection) ranged between 0±1 and 59±9% (mean ± standard deviation). Sensitive cell lines supported VSV infection, viral protein synthesis, and viral progeny production. In addition, when pre-treated with β-IFN, sensitive cells became resistant to M51R-VSV, suggesting that IFN-mediated antiviral signaling is defective in these cells. In contrast, resistant melanoma cells do not support VSV infection, viral protein synthesis, or viral replication, indicating that anti-viral defenses remain intact. In a murine xenograft model, intratumoral M51R-VSV treatment decreased tumor growth relative to controls after 26 days in SK-Mel 5 (−21±19% vs. 2100±770%, p<0.0001) and SK-Mel 3 (2000±810% vs 7000±3000%, p=0.008) established tumors.
M51R-VSV is a viable, anti-cancer therapy, but susceptibility varies among melanomas. Future work will exploit specific mechanisms of resistance to expand the therapeutic efficacy of M51R-VSV.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a negative-strand RNA virus with intrinsic oncolytic specificity due to substantially attenuated antiviral responses in many tumors. We have recently reported that recombinant VSV vector can be used as an effective oncolytic agent to safely treat multifocal hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the livers of immune-competent rats via hepatic artery infusion. When administered at doses above the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), however, the animals suffered from neurotoxicity and/or acute lethal hepatotoxicity. Since VSV is extremely sensitive to the antiviral actions of alpha/beta interferon (IFN-α/β) in normal cells, we tested if prophylactic treatment with rat IFN-α would enhance VSV safety without compromising treatment efficacy in tumor-bearing rats. We found that VSV retained its replication potential in human and rat HCC cells after preincubation with relatively high doses of rat and human IFN-α in vitro, and its MTD in tumor-bearing rats treated systemically with rat IFN-α at 66 IU/g body weight (BW), equivalent to a human IFN-α dose that is currently prescribed for patients with viral hepatitis, was elevated by more than 1/2 log unit. Furthermore, we demonstrate that intratumoral replication of VSV was not attenuated by administration of 66 IU/g BW rat IFN-α, as tumor response and survival advantage in VSV-treated rats in the presence or absence of rat IFN-α were equivalent. The results suggest that prophylactic rat IFN-α treatment elevates the therapeutic index of hepatic arterial VSV therapy for multifocal HCC in rats. Since human IFN-α is currently in clinical use, its prophylactic application should be considered in future clinical translational protocols for VSV-mediated oncolytic virotherapy as a novel therapeutic modality in patients with advanced HCC, as well as other types of cancer.
Our pre-clinical and clinical trials using a replication-defective adenoviral vector expressing IFN-β have shown promising results for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. Based on the hypotheses that a replication-competent Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) oncolytic vector would transduce more tumor cells in vivo, that co-expression of the immunostimulatory IFN-β gene would enhance the immune-based effector mechanisms associated both with regression of mesotheliomas and with VSV-mediated virotherapy, and that virus-derived IFN-β would add further safety to the VSV platform, we tested the use of IFN-β as a therapeutic transgene expressed from VSV as a novel treatment for mesothelioma. VSV-IFN-β showed significant therapy against AB12 murine mesotheliomas in the context of both local and loco-regional viral delivery. Biologically active IFN-β expressed from VSV added significantly to therapy compared to VSV alone, dependent in part upon host CD8+ T-cell responses. Immune monitoring suggested that these anti-tumor T-cell responses may be due to a generalised T-cell activation rather than the priming of tumor antigen-specific T-cell responses. Finally, IFN-β also added considerable extra safety to the virus by providing protection from off-target viral replication in non-tumor tissues and protected SCID mice from developing lethal neurotoxicity. The enhanced therapeutic index provided by the addition of IFN-β to VSV therefore provides a powerful justification for the development of this virus for future clinical trials.
VSV; interferon-β; mesothelioma; oncolytic virotherapy
Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable malignancy of plasma secreting B-cells disseminated in the bone marrow. Successful utilization of oncolytic virotherapy for myeloma treatment requires a systemically administered virus that selectively destroys disseminated myeloma cells in an immune-competent host. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) expressing Interferon-β (IFNβ) is a promising new oncolytic agent that exploits tumor-associated defects in innate immune signaling pathways to specifically destroy cancer cells. We demonstrate here that a single, intravenous dose of VSV-IFNβ specifically destroys subcutaneous and disseminated 5TGM1 myeloma in an immune competent myeloma model. VSV-IFN treatment significantly prolonged survival in mice bearing orthotopic myeloma. Viral murine IFNβ expression further delayed myeloma progression and significantly enhanced survival compared to VSV expressing human IFNβ. Evaluation of VSV-IFNβ oncolytic activity in human myeloma cell lines and primary patient samples confirmed myeloma specific oncolytic activity but revealed variable susceptibility to VSV-IFNβ oncolysis. The results indicate that VSV-IFNβ is a potent, safe oncolytic agent that can be systemically administered to effectively target and destroy disseminated myeloma in immune competent mice. IFNβ expression improves cancer specificity and enhances VSV therapeutic efficacy against disseminated myeloma. These data show VSV-IFNβ to be a promising vector for further development as a potential therapy for treatment of Multiple myeloma.
Oncolytic; virotherapy; myeloma; Vesicular stomatitis virus; systemic
Because of its very low human seroprevalence, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) has promise as a systemic oncolytic agent for human cancer therapy. However, as demonstrated in this report, the VSV infectious titer drops by 4 log units during the first hour of exposure to nonimmune human serum. This neutralization occurs relatively slowly and is mediated by the concerted actions of natural IgM and complement. Maraba virus, whose G protein is about 80% homologous to that of VSV, is relatively resistant to the neutralizing activity of nonimmune human serum. We therefore constructed and rescued a recombinant VSV whose G gene was replaced by the corresponding gene from Maraba virus. Comparison of the parental VSV and VSV with Maraba G substituted revealed nearly identical host range properties and replication kinetics on a panel of tumor cell lines. Moreover, in contrast to the parental VSV, the VSV with Maraba G substituted was resistant to nonimmune human serum. Overall, our data suggest that VSV with Maraba G substituted should be further investigated as a candidate for human systemic oncolytic virotherapy applications.
IMPORTANCE Oncolytic virotherapy is a promising approach for the treatment of disseminated cancers, but antibody neutralization of circulating oncolytic virus particles remains a formidable barrier. In this work, we developed a pseudotyped vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) with a glycoprotein of Maraba virus, a closely related but serologically distinct member of the family Rhabdoviridae, which demonstrated greatly diminished susceptibility to both nonimmune and VSV-immune serum neutralization. VSV with Maraba G substituted or lentiviral vectors should therefore be further investigated as candidates for human systemic oncolytic virotherapy and gene therapy applications.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) has been widely used to characterize cellular processes, viral resistance, and cytopathogenicity. Recently, VSV has also been used for oncolytic virotherapy due to its capacity to selectively lyse tumor cells. Mutants of the matrix (M) protein of VSV have generally been preferred to the wild-type virus for oncolysis because of their ability to induce type I interferon (IFN) despite causing weaker cytopathic effects. However, due to the large variability of tumor types, it is quite clear that various approaches and combinations of multiple oncolytic viruses will be needed to effectively treat most cancers. With this in mind, our work focused on characterizing the cytopathogenic profiles of four replicative envelope glycoprotein (G) VSV mutants. In contrast to the prototypic M mutant, VSV G mutants are as efficient as wild-type virus at inhibiting cellular transcription and host protein translation. Despite being highly cytopathic, the mutant G6R triggers type I interferon secretion as efficiently as the M mutant. Importantly, most VSV G mutants are more effective at killing B16 and MC57 tumor cells in vitro than the M mutant or wild-type virus through apoptosis induction. Taken together, our results demonstrate that VSV G mutants retain the high cytopathogenicity of wild-type VSV, with G6R inducing type I IFN secretion at levels similar to that of the M mutant. VSV G protein mutants could therefore prove to be highly valuable for the development of novel oncolytic virotherapy strategies that are both safe and efficient for the treatment of various types of cancer.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) replication is highly sensitive to interferon (IFN)-induced antiviral responses. Pretreatment of sensitive cultured cells with IFNβ results in a 104-fold reduction in the release of infectious VSV particles. However, differences exist between the mechanisms of reduced infectious particle titers in cell lines of neuroblastoma and nonneuronal lineage. In L929-fibroblast-derived cells, using immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, infection under control conditions reveals the accumulation of VSV matrix, phosphoprotein (P), and nucleocapsid (N) proteins over time, with induced cellular morphological changes indicative of cytopathic effects (CPEs). Upon observing L929 cells that had been pretreated with IFNβ, neither detectable VSV proteins nor CPEs were seen, consistent with type I IFN antiviral protection. When using the same techniques to observe VSV infections of NB41A3 cells, a neuroblastoma cell line, aside from similar viral progression in the untreated control cells, IFNβ-treated cells illustrated a severely attenuated VSV infection. Attenuated VSV progression was observed through detection of VSV matrix, P, and N proteins in isolated cells during the first 8 h of infection. However, by 18–24 h postinfection all neuroblastomas had succumbed to the viral infection. Finally, upon closer inspection of IFNβ-treated NB41A3 cells, no detectable changes in VSV protein localization were identified compared with untreated, virally infected neuroblastomas. Next, to extend our study to test our hypothesis that virion assembly is compromised within type I IFN-treated neuroblastoma cells we employed electron microscopy to examine our experimental conditions at the ultrastructural level. Using VSV-specific antibodies in conjunction with immuno-gold reagents, we observed several similarities between the two cell lines, such as identification of viroplasmic regions containing VSV N and P proteins and signs of stress-induced CPEs of VSV-infected cells, which had either been mock-treated or pretreated with interferon-β (IFNβ). One difference we observed between nonneuronal and neuroblastoma cells was more numerous actively budding VSV virions across untreated L929 plasma membranes, compared with untreated NB41A3 cells. Additionally, IFNβ-treated, VSV-infected L929 cells exhibited neither cytoplasmic viroplasm nor viral protein expression. In contrast, IFNβ-treated, VSV-infected NB41A3 cells showed evidence of VSV infection at a very low frequency as well as small-scale viroplasmic regions that colocalized with viral N and P proteins. Finally, we observed that VSV viral particles harvested from untreated VSV-infected L929 and NB41A3 cells were statistically similar in size and shape. A portion of VSV virions from IFNβ-treated, virally infected NB41A3 cells were similar in size and shape to virus from both untreated cell types. However, among the sampling of virions, pleomorphic viral particles that were identified from IFNβ-treated, VSV-infected NB41A3 cells were different enough to suggest a mis-assembly mechanism as part of the IFNβ antiviral state in neuroblastoma cells.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) replication is highly sensitive to interferon (IFN)-induced antiviral responses. Pretreatment of sensitive cultured cells with IFNβ results in a 104-fold reduction in the release of infectious VSV particles. However, differences exist between the mechanisms of reduced infectious particle titers in cell lines of neuroblastoma and nonneuronal lineage. In L929-fibroblast-derived cells, using immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, infection under control conditions reveals the accumulation of VSV matrix, phosphoprotein (P), and nucleocapsid (N) proteins over time, with induced cellular morphological changes indicative of cytopathic effects (CPEs). Upon observing L929 cells that had been pretreated with IFNβ, neither detectable VSV proteins nor CPEs were seen, consistent with type I IFN antiviral protection. When using the same techniques to observe VSV infections of NB41A3 cells, a neuroblastoma cell line, aside from similar viral progression in the untreated control cells, IFNβ-treated cells illustrated a severely attenuated VSV infection. Attenuated VSV progression was observed through detection of VSV matrix, P, and N proteins in isolated cells during the first 8 h of infection. However, by 18–24 h postinfection all neuroblastomas had succumbed to the viral infection. Finally, upon closer inspection of IFNβ-treated NB41A3 cells, no detectable changes in VSV protein localization were identified compared with untreated, virally infected neuroblastomas. Next, to extend our study to test our hypothesis that virion assembly is compromised within type I IFN-treated neuroblastoma cells, we employed electron microscopy to examine our experimental conditions at the ultrastructural level. Using VSV-specific antibodies in conjunction with immuno-gold reagents, we observed several similarities between the two cell lines, such as identification of viroplasmic regions containing VSV N and P proteins and signs of stress-induced CPEs of VSV-infected cells, which had either been mock-treated or pretreated with interferon-β (IFNβ). One difference we observed between nonneuronal and neuroblastoma cells was more numerous actively budding VSV virions across untreated L929 plasma membranes compared with untreated NB41A3 cells. Additionally, IFNβ-treated, VSV-infected L929 cells exhibited neither cytoplasmic viroplasm nor viral protein expression. In contrast, IFNβ-treated, VSV-infected NB41A3 cells showed evidence of VSV infection at a very low frequency as well as small-scale viroplasmic regions that colocalized with viral N and P proteins. Finally, we observed that VSV viral particles harvested from untreated VSV-infected L929 and NB41A3 cells were statistically similar in size and shape. A portion of VSV virions from IFNβ-treated, virally infected NB41A3 cells were similar in size and shape to virus from both untreated cell types. However, among the sampling of virions, pleomorphic viral particles that were identified from IFNβ-treated, VSV-infected NB41A3 cells were different enough to suggest a misassembly mechanism as part of the IFNβ antiviral state in neuroblastoma cells.
Oncolytic virus (OV) therapy takes advantage of common cancer characteristics, such as defective type I interferon (IFN) signaling, to preferentially infect and kill cancer cells with viruses. Our recent study (Murphy et al., 2012, J. Virol., 86: 3073-87) found human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) cells were highly heterogeneous in their permissiveness to vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and suggested at least some resistant cell lines retained functional type I IFN responses. Here we examine cellular responses to infection by the oncolytic VSV recombinant VSV-ΔM51-GFP by analyzing a panel of 11 human PDA cell lines for expression of 33 genes associated with type I IFN pathways. Although all cell lines sensed infection by VSV-ΔM51-GFP and most activated IFN-α and β expression, only resistant cell lines displayed constitutive high-level expression of the IFN-stimulated antiviral genes MxA and OAS. Inhibition of JAK/STAT signaling decreased levels of MxA and OAS and increased VSV infection, replication and oncolysis, further implicating IFN responses in resistance. Unlike VSV, vaccinia and herpes simplex virus infectivity and killing of PDA cells was independent of the type I IFN signaling profile, possibly because these two viruses are better equipped to evade type I IFN responses. Our study demonstrates heterogeneity in the type I IFN signaling status of PDA cells and suggests MxA and OAS as potential biomarkers for PDA resistance to VSV and other OVs sensitive to type I IFN responses.
With little improvement in the poor prognosis for humans with high-grade glioma brain tumors, alternative therapeutic strategies are needed. As such, selective replication-competent oncolytic viruses may be useful as a potential treatment modality. Here we test the hypothesis that defects in the interferon (IFN) pathway could be exploited to enhance the selective oncolytic profile of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) in glioblastoma cells. Two green fluorescent protein-expressing VSV strains, recombinant VSV and the glioma-adapted recombinant VSV-rp30a, were used to study infection of a variety of human glioblastoma cell lines compared to a panel of control cells, including normal human astrocytes, oligodendrocyte precursor cells, and primary explant cultures from human brain tissue. Infection rate, cell viability, viral replication, and IFN-α/β-related gene expression were compared in the absence and presence of IFN-α or polyriboinosinic polyribocytidylic acid [poly(I:C)], a synthetic inducer of the IFN-α/β pathway. Both VSV strains caused rapid and total infection and death of all tumor cell lines tested. To a lesser degree, normal cells were also subject to VSV infection. In contrast, IFN-α or poly(I:C) completely attenuated the infection of all primary control brain cells, whereas most glioblastoma cell lines treated with IFN-α or poly(I:C) showed little or no sign of protection and were killed by VSV. Together, our results demonstrate that activation of the interferon pathway protects normal human brain cells from VSV infection while maintaining the vulnerability of human glioblastoma cells to viral destruction.
VSV-FH is a hybrid vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) with a deletion of its G glycoprotein and encoding the measles virus (MV) fusion (F) and hemagglutinin (H) envelope glycoproteins. VSV-FH infects cells expressing MV receptors and is fusogenic and effective against myeloma xenografts in mice. We evaluated the fusogenic activities of MV and VSV-FH in relationship to the density of receptor on the target cell surface and the kinetics of F and H expression in infected cells. Using a panel of cells expressing increasing numbers of the MV receptor CD46, we evaluated syncytium size in MV- or VSV-FH-infected cells. VSV-FH is not fusogenic at low CD46 density but requires less CD46 for syncytium formation than MV. The size of each syncytium is larger in VSV-FH-infected cells at a specific CD46 density. While syncytium size reached a plateau and did not increase further in MV-infected CHO cells expressing ≥4,620 CD46 copies/cell, there was a corresponding increase in syncytium size with increases in CD46 levels in VSV-FH-infected CD46-expressing CHO (CHO-CD46) cells. Further analysis in VSV-FH-infected cell lines shows earlier and higher expression of F and H mRNAs and protein. However, VSV-FH cytotoxic activity was reduced by pretreatment of the cells with type I interferon. In contrast, the cytopathic effects are not affected in MV-infected cells. In summary, VSV-FH has significant advantages over MV as an oncolytic virus due to its higher viral yield, faster replication kinetics, and larger fusogenic capabilities but should be used in cancer types with defective interferon signaling pathways.
IMPORTANCE We studied the cytotoxic activity of a vesicular stomatitis/measles hybrid virus (VSV-FH), which is superior to that of measles virus (MV), in different cancer cell lines. We determined that viral RNA and protein were produced faster and in higher quantities in VSV-FH-infected cells. This resulted in the formation of larger syncytia, higher production of infectious particles, and a more potent cytopathic effect in permissive cells. Importantly, VSV-FH, similar to MV, can discriminate between low- and high-expressing CD46 cells, a phenotype important for cancer therapy as the virus will be able to preferentially infect cancer cells that overexpress CD46 over low-CD46-expressing normal cells.
Current adjuvant therapy for advanced-stage, recurrent, and high-risk endometrial cancer (EC) has not reduced mortality from this malignancy, and novel systemic therapies are imperative. Oncolytic viral therapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of gynecologic cancers, and we investigated the in vitro and in vivo efficacy of the Edmonston strain of measles virus (MV) and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) on EC.
Human EC cell lines (HEC-1-A, Ishikawa, KLE, RL95-2, AN3 CA, ARK-1, ARK-2, and SPEC-2) were infected with Edmonston strain MV expressing the thyroidal sodium iodide symporter, VSV expressing either human or murine IFN-β, or recombinant VSV with a methionine deletion at residue 51 of the matrix protein and expressing the sodium iodide symporter. Xenografts of HEC-1-A and AN3 CA generated in athymic mice were treated with intratumoral MV or VSV or intravenous VSV.
In vitro, all cell lines were susceptible to infection and cell killing by all 3 VSV strains except KLE. In addition, the majority of EC cell lines were defective in their ability to respond to type I IFN. Intratumoral VSV–treated tumors regressed more rapidly than MV-treated tumors, and intravenous VSV resulted in effective tumor control in 100% of mice. Survival was significantly longer for mice treated with any of the 3 VSV strains compared with saline.
VSV is clearly more potent in EC oncolysis than MV. A phase 1 clinical trial of VSV in EC is warranted.
Interferon protects mice from vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infection and pathogenesis; however, it is not known which of the numerous interferon-stimulated genes (ISG) mediate the antiviral effect. A prominent family of ISGs is the interferon-induced with tetratricopeptide repeats (Ifit) genes comprising three members in mice, Ifit1/ISG56, Ifit2/ISG54 and Ifit3/ISG49. Intranasal infection with a low dose of VSV is not lethal to wild-type mice and all three Ifit genes are induced in the central nervous system of the infected mice. We tested their potential contributions to the observed protection of wild-type mice from VSV pathogenesis, by taking advantage of the newly generated knockout mice lacking either Ifit2 or Ifit1. We observed that in Ifit2 knockout (Ifit2−/−) mice, intranasal VSV infection was uniformly lethal and death was preceded by neurological signs, such as ataxia and hind limb paralysis. In contrast, wild-type and Ifit1−/− mice were highly protected and survived without developing such disease. However, when VSV was injected intracranially, virus replication and survival were not significantly different between wild-type and Ifit2−/− mice. When administered intranasally, VSV entered the central nervous system through the olfactory bulbs, where it replicated equivalently in wild-type and Ifit2−/− mice and induced interferon-β. However, as the infection spread to other regions of the brain, VSV titers rose several hundred folds higher in Ifit2−/− mice as compared to wild-type mice. This was not caused by a broadened cell tropism in the brains of Ifit2−/− mice, where VSV still replicated selectively in neurons. Surprisingly, this advantage for VSV replication in the brains of Ifit2−/− mice was not observed in other organs, such as lung and liver. Pathogenesis by another neurotropic RNA virus, encephalomyocarditis virus, was not enhanced in the brains of Ifit2−/− mice. Our study provides a clear demonstration of tissue-, virus- and ISG-specific antiviral action of interferon.
In mammals, the first line of defense against virus infection is the interferon system. Viruses induce synthesis of interferon in the infected cells and its secretion to circulation. Interferon acts upon the as yet uninfected cells and protects them from oncoming infection by inducing the synthesis of hundreds of new proteins, many of which interfere with virus replication. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), a virus similar to rabies virus, is very sensitive to interferon but it is not known which interferon-induced protein inhibits its replication. Here, we have identified a single interferon-induced protein as the protector of mice from death by VSV infection. Knocking out the gene encoding this protein, Ifit2, made mice very vulnerable to neuropathogenesis caused by VSV infection; a related protein, Ifit1, did not share this property. Moreover, Ifit2 failed to protect mice from another neurotropic virus, encephalomyocarditis virus, nor was it necessary for protecting organs other than brain from infection by VSV. Our observation that a single IFN-induced protein protects a specific organ from infection by a specific virus revealed an unexpected degree of specificity of the antiviral action of IFN.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) has shown considerable promise both as an immunization vector and as an oncolytic virus. In both applications, an important concern is the safety profile of the virus. To generate a highly attenuated virus, we added two reporter genes to the 3′ end of the VSV genome, thereby shifting the NPMGL genes from positions 1 to 5 to positions 3 to 7. The resulting virus (VSV-12′GFP) was highly attenuated, generating smaller plaques than four other attenuated VSVs. In one-step growth curves, VSV-12′GFP displayed the slowest growth kinetics. The mechanism of attenuation appears to be due to reduced expression of VSV genes downstream of the reporter genes, as suggested by a 10.4-fold reduction in L-protein RNA transcript. Although attenuated, VSV-12′GFP was highly effective at generating an immune response, indicated by a high-titer antibody response against the green fluorescent protein (GFP) expressed by the virus. Although VSV-12′GFP was more attenuated than other VSVs on both normal and cancer cells, it nonetheless showed a greater level of infection of human cancer cells (glioma and melanoma) than of normal cells, and this effect was magnified in glioma by interferon application, indicating selective oncolysis. Intravenous VSV-12′GFP selectively infected human gliomas implanted into SCID mice subcutaneously or intracranially. All postnatal day 16 mice given intranasal VSV-12′GFP survived, whereas only 10% of those given VSV-G/GFP survived, indicating reduced neurotoxicity. Intratumoral injection of tumors with VSV-12′GFP dramatically suppressed tumor growth and enhanced survival. Together these data suggest this recombinant virus merits further study for its oncolytic and vaccine potential.
Background: To date, limited options are available to treat malignant prostate cancer, and novel strategies need to be developed. Oncolytic viruses (OV) that have preferential replication capabilities in cancer cells rather than normal cells represent one promising alternative for treating malignant tumors. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a non-segmented, negative-strand RNA virus with the inherent capability to selectively kill tumor cells. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential of VSV-ΔM51-GFP as an effective therapeutic agent for treating prostate tumors. Methods: For in vitro experiments, DU145 and PC3 cell lines were treated with VSV-ΔM51-GFP. Viral titers were quantified using plaque assays. Cytotoxicity was performed by MTT analysis. IFN-β production was measured using a Human IFN-β detection ELISA Kit. The detection of apoptosis was performed via Annexin-V-FITC staining method and analyzed with flow cytometry. The in vivo antitumor efficacy of VSV-ΔM51-GFP in a xenograft mice prostate tumor model. Results: It was observed that VSV-ΔM51-GFP can efficiently replicate and lyse human prostate cancer cells and that this virus has reduced toxicity against normal human prostate epithelial cells in vitro. VSV-ΔM51-GFP in the induction of apoptosis in DU145 cells and PC3 cells. Furthermore, in a xenograft tumor animal model, nude mice bearing replication-competent VSV-ΔM51-GFP were able to eradicate malignant cells while leaving normal tissue relatively unaffected. The survival of the tumor-burdened animals treated with VSV-ΔM51-GFP may also be significantly prolonged compared to mock-infected animals. Conclusions: VSV-ΔM51-GFP showed promising oncolytic activity for treating prostate cancer.
Vesicular stomatitis virus; prostate cancer; oncolytic virotherapy
Interferon (IFN)-induced antiviral responses are mediated through a variety of proteins, including the double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase PKR. Here we show that fibroblasts derived from PKR−/− mice are more permissive for vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infection than are wild-type fibroblasts and demonstrate a deficiency in alpha/beta-IFN-mediated protection. We further show that mice lacking PKR are extremely susceptible to intranasal VSV infection, succumbing within days after instillation with as few as 50 infectious viral particles. Again, alpha/beta-IFN was unable to rescue PKR−/− mice from VSV infection. Surprisingly, intranasally infected PKR−/− mice died not from pathology of the central nervous system but rather from acute infection of the respiratory tract, demonstrating high virus titers in the lungs compared to similarly infected wild-type animals. These results confirm the role of PKR as the major component of IFN-mediated resistance to VSV infection. Since previous reports have shown PKR to be nonessential for survival in animals challenged with encephalomyocarditis virus, influenza virus, and vaccinia virus (N. Abraham et al., J. Biol. Chem. 274:5953–5962, 1999; Y. Yang et al., EMBO J. 14:6095–6106, 1995), our findings serve to highlight the premise that host dependence on the various mediators of IFN-induced antiviral defenses is pathogen specific.
Multiple myeloma cells are highly sensitive to the oncolytic effects of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), which specifically targets and kills cancer cells. Myeloma cells are also exquisitely sensitive to the cytotoxic effects of the clinically-approved proteasome inhibitor bortezomib. Therefore, we sought to determine if the combination of VSV and bortezomib would enhance tumor cell killing. However, as shown here, combining these two agents in vitro results in antagonism. We show that bortezomib inhibits VSV replication and spread. We found that bortezomib inhibits VSV-induced NF-κB activation and, using the NF-κB-specific inhibitor BMS-345541, that VSV requires NF-κB activity in order to efficiently spread in myeloma cells. In contrast to other cancer cell lines, viral titer is not recovered by BMS-345541 when myeloma cells are pre-treated with interferon (IFN)-β. Thus, inhibiting NF-κB activity, either with bortezomib or BMS-345541, results in reduced VSV titers in myeloma cells in vitro. However, when VSV and bortezomib are combined in vivo, in two syngeneic, immunocompetent myeloma models, the combination reduces tumor burden to a greater degree than VSV as a single agent. Intra-tumoral VSV viral load is unchanged when mice are concomitantly treated with bortezomib as compared to VSV treatment alone. To our knowledge, this is the first report analyzing the combination of VSV and bortezomib in vivo. Although antagonism between VSV and bortezomib is seen in vitro, analyzing these cells in the context of their host environment shows that bortezomib enhances VSV response, suggesting that this combination will also enhance response in myeloma patients.
Multiple myeloma; oncolytic viruses; vesicular stomatitis virus; bortezomib
Interferons, in addition to their antiviral activity, induce a multiplicity of effects on different cell types. Interferon (IFN)-gamma exerts a unique regulatory effect on cells of the mononuclear phagocyte lineage. To investigate whether the antiviral and antiproliferative effects of IFN-gamma in macrophages can be genetically dissociated, and whether IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma use the same cellular signals and/or effector mechanisms to achieve their biologic effects, we have derived a series of somatic cell genetic variants resistant to the antiproliferative and/or antiviral activities of IFN-gamma. Two different classes of variants were found: those resistant to the antiproliferative and antiviral effects of IFN-gamma against vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and those resistant to the antiproliferative effect, but protected against VSV and encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) lysis by IFN-gamma. In addition, a third class of mutants was obtained that was susceptible to the growth inhibitory activity, but resistant to the antiviral activity of IFN-gamma. Analysis of these mutants has provided several insights regarding the regulatory mechanisms of IFN- gamma and IFN-alpha on the murine macrophage cell lines. The antiproliferative activity of IFN-gamma on these cells, in contrast to that of IFN-alpha, is mediated by a cAMP-independent pathway. The antiproliferative and antiviral activities of IFN-gamma were genetically dissociated. Variants were obtained that are growth resistant but antivirally protected, or are growth inhibited but not antivirally protected against VSV or EMCV. The genetic analysis indicated that IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma regulate the induction of the dsRNA-dependent P1/eIF-2 alpha protein kinase and 2',5'-oligoadenylate synthetase enzymatic activities via different pathways. Finally, a unique macrophage mutant was obtained that was protected by IFN-gamma against infection by VSV, but not EMCV, suggesting that antiviral mechanisms involved in protection against these different types of RNA viruses must be distinct at some level.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is prevalent worldwide and has become a major cause of liver dysfunction and hepatocellular carcinoma. The high prevalence of HCV reflects the persistent nature of infection and the large frequency of cases that resist the current interferon (IFN)-based anti-HCV therapeutic regimens. HCV resistance to IFN has been attributed, in part, to the function of the viral nonstructural 5A (NS5A) protein. NS5A from IFN-resistant strains of HCV can repress the PKR protein kinase, a mediator of the IFN-induced antiviral and apoptotic responses of the host cell and a tumor suppressor. Here we examined the relationship between HCV persistence and resistance to IFN therapy. When expressed in mammalian cells, NS5A from IFN-resistant HCV conferred IFN resistance to vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), which normally is sensitive to the antiviral actions of IFN. NS5A blocked viral double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-induced PKR activation and phosphorylation of eIF-2α in IFN-treated cells, resulting in high levels of VSV mRNA translation. Mutations within the PKR-binding domain of NS5A restored PKR function and the IFN-induced block to viral mRNA translation. The effects due to NS5A inhibition of PKR were not limited to the rescue of viral mRNA translation but also included a block in PKR-dependent host signaling pathways. Cells expressing NS5A exhibited defective PKR signaling and were refractory to apoptosis induced by exogenous dsRNA. Resistance to apoptosis was attributed to an NS5A-mediated block in eIF-2α phosphorylation. Moreover, cells expressing NS5A exhibited a transformed phenotype and formed solid tumors in vivo. Disruption of apoptosis and tumorogenesis required the PKR-binding function of NS5A, demonstrating that these properties may be linked to the IFN-resistant phenotype of HCV.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a prototypic nonsegmented negative-strand RNA virus. VSV’s broad cell tropism makes it a popular model virus for many basic research applications. In addition, a lack of preexisting human immunity against VSV, inherent oncotropism and other features make VSV a widely used platform for vaccine and oncolytic vectors. However, VSV’s neurotropism that can result in viral encephalitis in experimental animals needs to be addressed for the use of the virus as a safe vector. Therefore, it is very important to understand the determinants of VSV tropism and develop strategies to alter it. VSV glycoprotein (G) and matrix (M) protein play major roles in its cell tropism. VSV G protein is responsible for VSV broad cell tropism and is often used for pseudotyping other viruses. VSV M affects cell tropism via evasion of antiviral responses, and M mutants can be used to limit cell tropism to cell types defective in interferon signaling. In addition, other VSV proteins and host proteins may function as determinants of VSV cell tropism. Various approaches have been successfully used to alter VSV tropism to benefit basic research and clinically relevant applications.
Vesicular stomatitis virus; VSV; Tropism; Host factors; Oncolytic; Neurotropism; Neurotoxicity
Oncolytic viruses have been tested against many carcinomas of ectodermal and endodermal origin; however, sarcomas, arising from mesoderm, have received relatively little attention. Using 13 human sarcomas representing seven tumor types, we assessed the efficiency of infection, cytolysis, and replication of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and its oncolytically enhanced mutant VSV-rp30a. Both viruses efficiently infected and killed 12 of 13 sarcomas. VSV-rp30a showed a faster rate of infection and replication. In vitro and in vivo, VSV was selective for sarcomas compared with normal mesoderm. A single intravenous injection of VSV-rp30a selectively infected all subcutaneous human sarcomas tested in mice and arrested the growth of tumors that otherwise grew 11-fold. In contrast to other sarcomas, synovial sarcoma SW982 demonstrated remarkable resistance, even to high titers of virus (multiplicity of infection [MOI] of 100). We found no dysfunction in VSV binding or internalization. SW982 also resisted infection by human cytomegalovirus and Sindbis virus, suggesting a virus resistance mechanism based on an altered antiviral state. Quantitative reverse transcriptase (qRT)-PCR analysis revealed a heightened basal expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs). Pretreatment, but not cotreatment, with interferon attenuators valproate, Jak1 inhibitor, or vaccinia virus B18R protein rendered SW982 highly susceptible, and this correlated with downregulation of ISG expression. Jak1 inhibitor pretreatment also enhanced susceptibility in moderately VSV-resistant liposarcoma and bladder carcinoma. Overall, we find that the potential efficacy of VSV as an oncolytic agent extends to nonhematologic mesodermal tumors and that unusually strong resistance to VSV oncolysis can be overcome with interferon attenuators.
Among oncolytic viruses, the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is especially potent and a highly promising agent for the treatment of cancer. But, even though effective against multiple tumor entities in preclinical animal models, replication-competent VSV exhibits inherent neurovirulence, which has so far hindered clinical development. To overcome this limitation, replication-defective VSV vectors for cancer gene therapy have been tested and proven to be safe. However, gene delivery was inefficient and only minor antitumor efficacy was observed. Here, we present semireplication-competent vector systems for VSV (srVSV), composed of two trans-complementing, propagation-deficient VSV vectors. The de novo generated deletion mutants of the two VSV polymerase proteins P (phosphoprotein) and L (large catalytic subunit), VSVΔP and VSVΔL respectively, were used mutually or in combination with VSVΔG vectors. These srVSV systems copropagated in vitro and in vivo without recombinatory reversion to replication-competent virus. The srVSV systems were highly lytic for human glioblastoma cell lines, spheroids, and subcutaneous xenografts. Especially the combination of VSVΔG/VSVΔL vectors was as potent as wild-type VSV (VSV-WT) in vitro and induced long-term tumor regression in vivo without any associated adverse effects. In contrast, 90% of VSV-WT-treated animals succumbed to neurological disease shortly after tumor clearance. Most importantly, even when injected into the brain, VSVΔG/VSVΔL did not show any neurotoxicity. In conclusion, srVSV is a promising platform for virotherapeutic approaches and also for VSV-based vector vaccines, combining improved safety with an increased coding capacity for therapeutic transgenes, potentially allowing for multipronged approaches.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00109-012-0863-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Vesicular stomatitis virus; Oncolytic virus; Virotherapy; Malignant glioma
Toxicology studies were performed in rats and rhesus macaques to establish a safe starting dose for intratumoral injection of an oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus expressing human interferon-β (VSV-hIFNβ) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). No adverse events were observed after administration of 7.59 × 109 TCID50 (50% tissue culture infective dose) of VSV-hIFNβ into the left lateral hepatic lobe of Harlan Sprague Dawley rats. Plasma alanine aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase levels increased and platelet counts decreased in the virus-treated animals on days 1 and 2 but returned to pretreatment levels by day 4. VSV-hIFNβ was also injected into normal livers or an intrahepatic McA-RH7777 HCC xenograft established in Buffalo rats. Buffalo rats were more sensitive to neurotoxic effects of VSV; the no observable adverse event level (NOAEL) of VSV-hIFNβ in Buffalo rats was 107 TCID50. Higher doses were associated with fatal neurotoxicity and infectious virus was recovered from tumor and brain. Compared with VSV-hIFNβ, toxicity of VSV-rIFNβ (recombinant VSV expressing rat IFN-β) was greatly diminished in Buffalo rats (NOAEL, >1010 TCID50). Two groups of two adult male rhesus macaques received 109 or 1010 TCID50 of VSV-hIFNβ injected directly into the left hepatic lobe under computed tomographic guidance. No neurological signs were observed at any time point. No abnormalities (hematology, clinical chemistry, body weights, behavior) were seen and all macaques developed neutralizing anti-VSV antibodies. Plasma interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-α, and hIFN-β remained below detection levels by ELISA. On the basis of these studies, we will be proposing a cautious approach to dose escalation in a phase I clinical trial among patients with HCC.