The measles virus (MeV) membrane fusion apparatus consists of a fusion protein trimer and an attachment protein tetramer. To trigger membrane fusion, the heads of the MeV attachment protein, hemagglutinin (H), bind cellular receptors while the 96-residue-long H stalk transmits the triggering signal. Structural and functional studies of the triggering mechanism of other paramyxoviruses suggest that receptor binding to their hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) results in signal transmission through the central segments of their stalks. To gain insight into H-stalk structure and function, we individually replaced its residues with cysteine. We then assessed how stable the mutant proteins are, how efficiently they can be cross-linked by disulfide bonds, whether cross-linking results in loss of function, and, in this case, whether disulfide bond reduction restores function. While many residues in the central segment of the stalk and in the spacer segment above it can be efficiently cross-linked by engineered disulfide bonds, we report here that residues 59 to 79 cannot, suggesting that the 20 membrane-proximal residues are not engaged in a tetrameric structure. Rescue-of-function studies by disulfide bond reduction resulted in the redefinition and extension of the central fusion-activation segment as covering residues 84 to 117. In particular, we identified four residues located between positions 92 and 99, the function of which cannot be restored by disulfide bond reduction after cysteine mutagenesis. These mutant H proteins reached the cell surface as complex oligomers but could not trigger membrane fusion. We discuss these observations in the context of the stalk exposure model of membrane fusion triggering by paramyxoviruses.
IMPORTANCE Measles virus, while being targeted for eradication, still causes significant morbidity and mortality. Here, we seek to understand how it enters cells by membrane fusion. Two viral integral membrane glycoproteins (hemagglutinin tetramers and fusion protein trimers) mediate the concerted receptor recognition and membrane fusion processes. Since previous studies have suggested that the hemagglutinin stalk transmits the triggering signal to the fusion protein trimer, we completed an analysis of its structure and function by systematic Cys mutagenesis. We report that while certain residues of the central stalk segment confer specificity to the interaction with the fusion protein trimer, others are necessary to allow folding of the H-oligomer in a standard conformation conducive to fusion triggering, and still other residues sustain the conformational change that transmits the fusion-triggering signal.
The V proteins of paramyxoviruses control the innate immune response. In particular, the V protein of the genus Morbillivirus interferes with the signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1), STAT2, and melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (mda5) signaling pathways. To characterize the contributions of these pathways to canine distemper virus (CDV) pathogenesis, we took advantage of the knowledge about the mechanisms of interaction between the measles virus V protein with these key regulators of innate immunity. We generated recombinant CDVs with V proteins unable to properly interact with STAT1, STAT2, or mda5. A virus with combined STAT2 and mda5 deficiencies was also generated, and available wild-type and V-protein-knockout viruses were used as controls. Ferrets infected with wild-type and STAT1-blind viruses developed severe leukopenia and loss of lymphocyte proliferation activity and succumbed to the disease within 14 days. In contrast, animals infected with viruses with STAT2 or mda5 defect or both STAT2 and mda5 defects developed a mild self-limiting disease similar to that associated with the V-knockout virus. This study demonstrates the importance of interference with STAT2 and mda5 signaling for CDV immune evasion and provides a starting point for the development of morbillivirus vectors with reduced immunosuppressive properties.
IMPORTANCE The V proteins of paramyxoviruses interfere with the recognition of the virus by the immune system of the host. For morbilliviruses, the V protein is known to interact with the signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) and STAT2 and the melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (mda5), which are involved in interferon signaling. Here, we examined the contribution of each of these signaling pathways to the pathogenesis of the carnivore morbillivirus canine distemper virus. Using viruses selectively unable to interfere with the respective signaling pathway to infect ferrets, we found that inhibition of STAT2 and mda5 signaling was critical for lethal disease. Our findings provide new insights in the mechanisms of morbillivirus immune evasion and may lead to the development of new vaccines and oncolytic vectors.
The measles virus (MV) phosphoprotein (P) and V proteins block the interferon (IFN) response by impeding phosphorylation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) by the Janus kinase 1 (JAK1). We characterized how STAT1 mutants interact with P and JAK1 phosphorylation. Certain mutants of the linker, the Src-homology 2 domain (SH2), or the transactivation domain had reduced or abolished phosphorylation through JAK1 after IFN treatment. Other mutants, mainly localized in the linker, failed to interact with P as documented by the lack of interference with nuclear translocation. Thus the functional footprint of P on STAT1 localizes mainly to the linker domain; there is also some overlap with the STAT1 phosphorylation functional footprint on the SH2 domain. Based on these observations, we discuss how the MV-P might operate to inhibit the JAK/STAT pathway.
measles virus; phosphoprotein; STAT1; innate immunity; interferon signaling
Measles virus (MV) lacking expression of C protein (CKO) is a potent activator of the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-dependent protein kinase (PKR), whereas the isogenic parental virus expressing C protein is not. Here, we demonstrate that significant amounts of dsRNA accumulate during CKO mutant infection but not following parental virus infection. dsRNA accumulated during late stages of infection and localized with virus replication sites containing N and P proteins. PKR autophosphorylation and stress granule formation correlated with the timing of dsRNA appearance. Phospho-PKR localized to dsRNA-containing structures as revealed by immunofluorescence. Production of dsRNA was sensitive to cycloheximide but resistant to actinomycin D, suggesting that dsRNA is a viral product. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) analyses revealed reduced viral RNA synthesis and a steepened transcription gradient in CKO virus-infected cells compared to those in parental virus-infected cells. The observed alterations were further reflected in lower viral protein expression levels and reduced CKO virus infectious yield. RNA deep sequencing confirmed the viral RNA expression profile differences seen by qPCR between CKO mutant and parental viruses. After one subsequent passage of the CKO virus, defective interfering RNA (DI-RNA) with a duplex structure was obtained that was not seen with the parental virus. We conclude that in the absence of C protein, the amount of PKR activator RNA, including DI-RNA, is increased, thereby triggering innate immune responses leading to impaired MV growth.
Early-stage clinical trials of oncolytic virotherapy have reported the safety of several virus platforms, and viruses from three families have progressed to advanced efficacy trials. In addition, preclinical studies have established proof-of-principle for many new genetic engineering strategies. Thus, the virotherapy field now has available a diverse collection of viruses that are equipped to address unmet clinical needs owing to improved systemic administration, greater tumour specificity and enhanced oncolytic efficacy. The current key challenge for the field is to develop viruses that replicate with greater efficiency within tumours while achieving therapeutic synergy with currently available treatments.
Virotherapy is currently undergoing a renaissance, based on our improved understanding of virus biology and genetics and our better knowledge of many different types of cancer. Viruses can be reprogrammed into oncolytic vectors by combining three types of modification: targeting, arming and shielding. Targeting introduces multiple layers of cancer specificity and improves safety and efficacy; arming occurs through the expression of prodrug convertases and cytokines; and coating with polymers and the sequential usage of different envelopes or capsids provides shielding from the host immune response. Virus-based therapeutics are beginning to find their place in cancer clinical practice, in combination with chemotherapy and radiation.
The pH-independent measles virus membrane fusion process begins when the attachment protein H binds to a receptor. Knowing that the central segment of the tetrameric H stalk transmits the signal to the fusion protein trimer, we investigated how. We document that exact conservation of most residues in the 92 through 99 segment is essential for function. In addition, hydrophobic and charged residues in the 104 through 125 segment, arranged with helical periodicity, are critical for F protein interactions and signal transmission.
Retargeting of lentiviral vector entry to cell types of interest is a key factor in improving the safety and efficacy of gene transfer. In this study we show that the retargetable envelope glycoproteins of measles virus (MV), namely, the hemagglutinin (H) responsible for receptor recognition and the fusion protein (F), can pseudotype human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) vectors when their cytoplasmic tails are truncated. We then pseudotyped HIV-1 vectors with MV glycoproteins displaying on H either the epidermal growth factor or a single-chain antibody directed against CD20, but without the ability to recognize their native receptors. Gene transfer into cells that expressed the targeted receptor was several orders of magnitude more efficient than into cells that did not. High-target versus nontarget cell discrimination was demonstrated in mixed cell populations, where the targeting vector selectively eliminated CD20-positive cells after suicide gene transfer. Remarkably, primary human CD20-positive B lymphocytes were transduced more efficiently by the CD20-targeted vector than by a vector pseudo-typed with the vesicular stomatitis virus G (VSV-G) protein. In addition, the CD20-targeted vector was able to transduce even unstimulated primary B cells, whereas VSV-G pseudotyped vectors were unable to do so. Because MV enters cells through direct fusion at the cell membrane, this novel targeting system should be widely applicable.
Wild-type measles virus (MV) strains use the signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM; CD150) and the adherens junction protein nectin-4 (poliovirus receptor-like 4 [PVRL4]) as receptors. Vaccine MV strains have adapted to use ubiquitous membrane cofactor protein (MCP; CD46) in addition. Recently solved cocrystal structures of the MV attachment protein (hemagglutinin [H]) with each receptor indicate that all three bind close to a hydrophobic groove located between blades 4 and 5 (β4-β5 groove) of the H protein β-propeller head. We used this structural information to focus our analysis of the functional footprints of the three receptors on vaccine MV H. We mutagenized this protein and tested the ability of individual mutants to support cell fusion through each receptor. The results highlighted a strong overlap between the functional footprints of nectin-4 and CD46 but not those of SLAM. A soluble form of nectin-4 abolished vaccine MV entry in nectin-4- and CD46-expressing cells but only reduced entry through SLAM. Analyses of the binding kinetics of an H mutant with the three receptors revealed that a single substitution in the β4-β5 groove drastically reduced nectin-4 and CD46 binding while minimally altering SLAM binding. We also generated recombinant viruses and analyzed their infections in cells expressing individual receptors. Introduction of a single substitution into the hydrophobic pocket affected entry through both nectin-4 and CD46 but not through SLAM. Thus, while nectin-4 and CD46 interact functionally with the H protein β4-β5 hydrophobic groove, SLAM merely covers it. This has implications for vaccine and antiviral strategies.
After the contagion measles virus (MV) crosses the respiratory epithelium within myeloid cells that express the primary receptor signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM), it replicates briskly in SLAM-expressing cells in lymphatic organs. Later, the infection spreads to epithelia expressing nectin-4, an adherens junction protein expressed preferentially in the trachea, but how it gets there is not understood. To characterize the mechanisms of spread, we infected groups of 5 or 6 cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) with either a wild-type MV or its “N4-blind” derivative, which is unable to enter nectin-4-expressing cells because of the targeted mutation of two hemagglutinin residues. As expected, both viruses caused similar levels of immunosuppression, as monitored by reductions in white blood cell counts and lymphocyte proliferation activity. However, monkeys infected with the N4-blind MV cleared infection more rapidly. Wild-type virus-infected monkeys secreted virus, while marginal virus titers were detected in tracheal lavage fluid cells of N4-blind MV-infected hosts. Analyses of tracheal rings obtained at necropsy (day 12) documented widespread infection of individual cells or small cell clusters in the subepithelial lamina propria of monkeys infected with either virus. However, only wild-type MV spread to the epithelium, forming numerous infectious centers comprised of many contiguous columnar cells. Infected CD11c+ myeloid (macrophage or dendritic) cells were frequently observed in the lamina propria below epithelial infectious centers. Thus, MV may use myeloid cells as vehicles not only immediately after contagion but also to infect epithelia of tissues expressing nectin-4, including the trachea.
Antibody-mediated neutralization may interfere with the efficacy of measles virus (MV) oncolysis. To circumvent vector neutralization, we sought to exchange the envelope glycoproteins, hemagglutinin (H) and fusion (F), with those from the non-cross reactive Tupaia paramyxovirus (TPMV). To sustain efficient particle assembly, we generated hybrid glycoproteins with the MV cytoplasmic tails and the TPMV ectodomains. Hybrid F-proteins that partially retained fusion function, and hybrid H-proteins that retained fusion support activity, were generated. However, when used in combination, the hybrid proteins did not support membrane fusion. An alternative strategy was developed based on a hybrid F protein and a truncated H protein that supported cell-cell fusion. A hybrid virus expressing these two proteins was rescued, and was able to spread by cell fusion, however was only capable of producing minimal amounts of particles. Lack of specific interactions between the matrix and the H-protein, in combination with sub-optimal F-protein processing and inefficient glycoprotein transport in the rescue cells, accounted for inefficient particle production. Ultimately, this interferes with applications for oncolytic virotherapy. Alternative strategies for the generation of shielded MV are discussed.
Tupaia paramyxovirus; measles virus; glycoprotein modification; vector shielding
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection remains a serious public health problem worldwide. Treatments are limited, and no preventive vaccine is available. Toward developing an HCV vaccine, we engineered two recombinant measles viruses (MVs) expressing structural proteins from the prototypic HCV subtype 1a strain H77. One virus directs the synthesis of the HCV capsid (C) protein and envelope glycoproteins (E1 and E2), which fold properly and form a heterodimer. The other virus expresses the E1 and E2 glycoproteins separately, with each one fused to the cytoplasmic tail of the MV fusion protein. Although these hybrid glycoproteins were transported to the plasma membrane, they were not incorporated into MV particles. Immunization of MV-susceptible, genetically modified mice with either vector induced neutralizing antibodies to MV and HCV. A boost with soluble E2 protein enhanced titers of neutralizing antibody against the homologous HCV envelope. In animals primed with MV expressing properly folded HCV C-E1-E2, boosting also induced cross-neutralizating antibodies against two heterologous HCV strains. These results show that recombinant MVs retain the ability to induce MV-specific humoral immunity while also eliciting HCV neutralizing antibodies, and that anti-HCV immunity can be boosted with a single dose of purified E2 protein. The use of MV vectors could have advantages for pediatric HCV vaccination.
We compare the receptor-based mechanisms that a small RNA virus and a larger DNA virus have evolved to drive the fusion of viral and cellular membranes. Both systems rely on tight control over triggering the concerted refolding of a trimeric fusion protein. While measles virus entry depends on a receptor-binding protein and a fusion protein only, the herpes simplex virus is more complex and requires four viral proteins. Nevertheless, in both viruses a receptor-binding protein is required for triggering the membrane fusion process. Moreover, specificity domains can be appended to these receptor-binding proteins to target virus entry to cells expressing a designated receptor. We discuss how principles established with measles and herpes simplex virus can be applied to targeting other enveloped viruses, and alternatively how retargeted envelopes can be fitted on foreign capsids.
To characterize the importance of infection of epithelial cells for morbillivirus pathogenesis, we took advantage of the severe disease caused by canine distemper virus (CDV) in ferrets. To obtain a CDV that was unable to enter epithelial cells but retained the ability to enter immune cells, we transferred to its attachment (H) protein two mutations shown to interfere with the interaction of measles virus H with its epithelial receptor, human nectin-4. As expected for an epithelial receptor (EpR)-blind CDV, this virus infected dog and ferret epithelial cells inefficiently and did not cause cell fusion or syncytium formation. On the other hand, the EpR-blind CDV replicated in cells expressing canine signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM), the morbillivirus immune cell receptor, with similar kinetics to those of wild-type CDV. While ferrets infected with wild-type CDV died within 12 days after infection, after developing severe rash and fever, animals infected with the EpR-blind virus showed no clinical signs of disease. Nevertheless, both viruses spread rapidly and efficiently in immune cells, causing similar levels of leukopenia and inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation activity, two indicators of morbillivirus immunosuppression. Infection was documented for airway epithelia of ferrets infected with wild-type CDV but not for those of animals infected with the EpR-blind virus, and only animals infected with wild-type CDV shed virus. Thus, epithelial cell infection is necessary for clinical disease and efficient virus shedding but not for immunosuppression.
Measles (MV) is an aerosol-transmitted virus that affects more than 10 million children each year and accounts for approximately 120,000 deaths1,2. While it was long believed to replicate in the respiratory epithelium before disseminating, it was recently shown to initially infect macrophages and dendritic cells of the airways using the signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM, CD150) as receptor3-6. These cells then cross the respiratory epithelium and ferry the infection to lymphatic organs where MV replicates vigorously7. How and where the virus crosses back into the airways has remained unknown. Based on functional analyses of surface proteins preferentially expressed on virus-permissive epithelial cell lines, we identified nectin-48 (poliovirus-receptor-like-4) as a candidate host exit receptor. This adherens junction protein of the immunoglobulin superfamily interacts with the viral attachment protein with high affinity through its membrane-distal domain. Nectin-4 sustains MV entry and non-cytopathic lateral spread in well-differentiated primary human airway epithelial sheets infected basolaterally. It is down-regulated in infected epithelial cells, including those of macaque tracheas. While other viruses use receptors to enter hosts or transit through their epithelial barriers, we suggest that MV targets nectin-4 to emerge in the airways. Nectin-4 is a cellular marker of several types of cancer9-11, which has implications for ongoing MV-based clinical trials of oncolysis12.
The measles virus entry system, constituted of attachment (hemagglutinin, H) and fusion proteins, operates based on a variety of natural and targeted receptors. However, the mechanism triggering fusion of the viral envelope with the plasma membrane is not understood. Here we tested a model considering that the two heads of an H-dimer, which are covalently linked at their base, after binding two receptor molecules, move relative to each other to transmit the fusion-triggering signal. Indeed, stabilizing the H-dimer interface by additional inter-molecular disulfide bonds prevented membrane fusion, an effect reversed by a reducing agent. Moreover, a membrane-anchored designated receptor efficiently triggered fusion, provided it engaged the H-dimer at locations proximal to where the natural receptors bind, and distal to the H-dimer interface. We discuss how receptors may force H-heads to switch partners and transmit the fusion-triggering signal.
Measles remains a leading cause of death worldwide among children because it suppresses immune function. The measles virus (MV) P gene encodes three proteins (P, V, and C) that interfere with innate immunity, controlling STAT1, STAT2, mda5, and perhaps other key regulators of immune function. We identified here three residues in the shared domain of the P and V proteins—tyrosine 110, valine 112, and histidine 115—that function to retain STAT1 in the cytoplasm and inhibit interferon transcription. This information was used to generate a recombinant measles virus unable to antagonize STAT1 function (STAT1-blind MV) differing only in these three residues from a wild-type strain of well-defined virulence. This virus was used to assess the relevance of P and V interactions with STAT1 for virulence in primates. When a group of six rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) was inoculated intranasally with STAT1-blind MV, viremia was short-lived, and the skin rash and other clinical signs observed with wild-type MV were absent. The STAT1-blind virus less efficiently controlled the inflammatory response, as measured by enhanced transcription of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from infected hosts. Importantly, neutralizing antibody titers and MV-specific T-cell responses were equivalent in hosts infected with either virus. These findings indicate that efficient MV interactions with STAT1 are required to sustain virulence in a natural host by controlling the inflammatory response against the virus. They also suggest that selectively STAT1-blind MV may have utility as vectors for targeted oncolysis and vaccination.
MV-PNP HblindantiCD20 is a CD20-targeted and prodrug convertase-armed measles virus (MV) that temporarily controls growth of lymphoma xenografts in SCID mice in combination with fludarabine phosphate. Herein, we examine the replication of this targeted virus and of a vaccine-lineage MV in disease bulks and circulating cells from mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) patients, and show that only the targeted virus is specific for CD20-expressing cells. We then assessed the efficacy of different regimens of administration of this virus in combination with fludarabine and cyclophosphamide (CPA) in a MCL xenograft model. We show that CPA administration before virus enhances oncolytic efficacy, likely through temporary immunosuppression. An interval of one-week between intravenous virus administration and fludarabine treatment further enhanced oncolysis, by synchronizing maximum prodrug convertase expression with fludarabine availability. Finally, three 23-day courses of triple sequential treatment with CPA, virus and fludarabine treatment resulted in complete regression of the xenografts. Secondary disease symptoms interfered with survival, but average survival times increased from 22 to 77 days. These studies document a reprogrammed oncolytic virus consolidating the effects of two chemotherapeutics, a concept well-suited for a phase I clinical trial for MCL patients for whom conventional therapies have failed.
cyclophosphamide; fludarabine; mantle cell lymphoma; oncolytic therapy; targeted and armed virus
The signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM; CD150) is the immune cell receptor for measles virus (MV). To assess the importance of the SLAM-MV interactions for virus spread and pathogenesis, we generated a wild-type IC-B MV selectively unable to recognize human SLAM (SLAM-blind). This virus differs from the fully virulent wild-type IC-B strain by a single arginine-to-alanine substitution at amino acid 533 of the attachment protein hemagglutinin and infects cells through SLAM about 40 times less efficiently than the isogenic wild-type strain. Ex vivo, this virus infects primary lymphocytes at low levels regardless of SLAM expression. When a group of six rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) was inoculated intranasally with the SLAM-blind virus, no clinical symptoms were documented. Only one monkey had low-level viremia early after infection, whereas all the hosts in the control group had high viremia levels. Despite minimal, if any, viremia, all six hosts generated neutralizing antibody titers close to those of the control monkeys while MV-directed cellular immunity reached levels at least as high as in wild-type-infected monkeys. These findings prove formally that efficient SLAM recognition is necessary for MV virulence and pathogenesis. They also suggest that the selectively SLAM-blind wild-type MV can be developed into a vaccine vector.
Recent studies of primate models suggest that wild-type measles virus (MV) infects immune cells located in the airways before spreading systemically, but the identity of these cells is unknown. To identify cells supporting primary MV infection, we took advantage of mice expressing the MV receptor human signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM, CD150) with human-like tissue specificity. We infected these mice intranasally (IN) with a wild-type MV expressing green fluorescent protein. One, two, or three days after inoculation, nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT), the lungs, several lymph nodes (LNs), the spleen, and the thymus were collected and analyzed by microscopy and flow cytometry, and virus isolation was attempted. One day after inoculation, MV replication was documented only in the airways, in about 2.5% of alveolar macrophages (AM) and 0.5% of dendritic cells (DC). These cells expressed human SLAM, and it was observed that MV infection temporarily enhanced SLAM expression. Later, MV infected other immune cell types, including B and T lymphocytes. Virus was isolated from lymphatic tissue as early as 2 days post-IN inoculation; the mediastinal lymph node was an early site of replication and supported high levels of infection. Three days after intraperitoneal inoculation, 1 to 8% of the mediastinal LN cells were infected. Thus, MV infection of alveolar macrophages and subepithelial dendritic cells in the airways precedes infection of lymphocytes in lymphatic organs of mice expressing human SLAM with human-like tissue specificity.
The measles virus P gene products V and C antagonize the host interferon (IFN) response, blocking both IFN signaling and production. Using Moraten vaccine strain-derived measles virus and isogenic mutants deficient for either V or C protein production (Vko and Cko, respectively), we observed that the Cko virus was a potent inducer of IFN-β, while induction by Vko virus was an order of magnitude lower than that by the Cko virus. The parental recombinant Moraten virus did not significantly induce IFN-β. The enhanced IFN-inducing capacity of the Cko virus correlated with an enhanced activation of IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3), NF-κB, and ATF-2 in Cko-infected compared to Vko or parental virus-infected cells. Furthermore, protein kinase PKR and mitochondrial adapter IPS-1 were required for maximal Cko-mediated IFN-β induction, which correlated with the PKR-mediated enhancement of mitogen-activated protein kinase and NF-κB activation. Our results reveal multiple consequences of C protein expression and document an important function for PKR as an enhancer of IFN-β induction during measles virus infection.
The widely used hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine is based on three doses of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) protein. We previously showed that vectored measles viruses (MV) expressing HBsAg retain measles vaccine function in monkeys but do not induce a protective anti-HBs response in all animals. We show here that a single dose of HBsAg protein following a three-dose vaccination regimen with an optimized HBsAg-expressing MV elicits protective anti-HBs responses in all four vaccinated Rhesus monkeys. Vaccination strategies coupling the effective, long-term immunity elicited by the high-coverage MV vaccine to prophylactic HBV immunity are discussed.
No curative therapy is currently available for locally advanced or metastatic prostate cancer. Oncolytic viruses represent a novel class of therapeutic agents that demonstrates no cross-resistance with existing approaches and can therefore be combined with conventional treatment modalities. Measles virus strains deriving from the Edmonston (MV-Edm) vaccine strain have shown considerable oncolytic activity against a variety of solid tumers and hematologic malignancies. In this study, we investigated the antitumor potential of recombinant MV-Edm derivatives as novel oncolytic agents against prostate cancer.
The susceptibility of prostate cancer cell lines (PC-3, DU-145, and LNCaP) to measles virus infection was demonstrated using an MV-Edm derivative expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP). MV-Edm replication in prostate cancer cell lines was assessed by one step viral growth curves. The oncolytic effect of an MV-Edm strain engineered to express the human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) was demonstrated in vitro by MTT assays and in vivo in subcutaneous PC-3 xenografts. CEA levels were quantitated in cell supernatants and mouse serum samples.
Recombinant MV-Edm strains can effectively infect, replicate in and kill prostate cancer cells. Intratumoral administration of MV-CEA at a total dose of 6 ×106 TCID50 resulted in statistically significant tumor growth delay (P = 0.004) and prolongation of survival (P = 0.001) in a subcutaneous PC-3 xenograft model. Viral growth kinetics paralleled CEA production.
MV-CEA has potent antitumor activity against prostate cancer cell lines and xenografts. Viral gene expression during treatment can be determined by monitoring of CEA levels in the serum; the latter could allow dose optimization and tailoring of individualized treatment protocols.
CEA; measles virus; MV-CEA; prostate cancer; virotherapy
The measles virus (MV) accessory proteins V and C play important roles in MV replication and pathogenesis. Infection with recombinant MV lacking either V or C causes more cell death than infection with the parental vaccine-equivalent virus (MVvac), and C-deficient virus grows poorly relative to the parental virus. Here, we show that a major effector of the C phenotype is the RNA-dependent protein kinase PKR. Using human HeLa cells stably deficient in PKR as a result of RNA interference-mediated knockdown (PKRkd cells), we demonstrated that a reduction in PKR partially rescued the growth defect of C knockout (Cko) virus but had no effect on the growth of either wild-type (WT) or V knockout (Vko) virus. Increased growth of the Cko virus in PKRkd cells correlated with increased viral protein expression, while defective growth and decreased protein expression in PKR-sufficient cells correlated with increased phosphorylation of PKR and the α subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2. Furthermore, infection with WT, Vko, or especially Cko virus caused significantly less apoptosis in PKRkd cells than in PKR-sufficient cells. Although apoptosis induced by Cko virus infection in PKR-sufficient cells was blocked by a caspase antagonist, the growth of Cko virus was not restored to the WT level by treatment with this pharmacologic inhibitor. Taken together, these results indicate that PKR plays an important antiviral role during MV infection but that the virus growth restriction by PKR is not dependent upon the induction of apoptosis. Furthermore, the results establish that a principal function of the MV C protein is to antagonize the proapoptotic and antiviral activities of PKR.