The purpose of the current study was to alter the broad native tropism of human adenovirus for virus targeting to c-erbB2-positive cancer cells. First, we engineered a single-chain antibody (scFv) against the c-erbB2 oncoprotein into minor capsid protein IX (pIX) of adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) in a manner commensurate with virion integrity and binding to the soluble extracellular c-erbB2 domain. To ablate native viral tropism and facilitate binding of the pIX-incorporated scFv to cellular c-erbB2 we replaced the Ad5 fiber with the Ad41 short (41s) fiber devoid of all known cell-binding determinants. The resultant Ad5F41sIX6.5 vector demonstrated increased cell binding and gene transfer as compared to the Ad5F41s control, however, this augmentation of virus infectivity was not c-erbB2-specific. Incorporation of a six histidine (His6) peptide into the C-terminus of the 41s fiber protein resulted in markedly increased Ad5F41s6H infectivity in 293AR cells, which express a membrane-anchored scFv against the C-terminal oligo-histidine tag, as compared to the Ad5F41s vector and the parental 293 cells. These data suggested that a 41s fiber-incorporated His6 tag could serve for attachment of an adapter protein designed to guide Ad5F41s6H infection in a c-erbB2-specific manner. We therefore engineered a bispecific scFv diabody (scDb) combining affinities for both c-erbB2 and the His6 tag and showed its ability to provide up to 25-fold increase of Ad5F41s6H infectivity in c-erbB2-positive cells. Thus, Ad5 fiber replacement by a His6–tagged 41s fiber coupled with virus targeting mediated by an scDb adapter represents a promising strategy to confer Ad5 vector tropism for c-erbB2-positive cancer cells.
Adenovirus; c-erbB2; serotype 41 short fiber; capsid protein IX; single-chain diabody
Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), caused by Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), remains untreatable. Production of human monoclonal antibodies against Stx, which are highly effective in preventing Stx sequelae in animal models, is languishing due to cost and logistics. We reported previously that the production and evaluation of a camelid heavy-chain-only VH domain (VHH)-based neutralizing agent (VNA) targeting Stx1 and Stx2 (VNA-Stx) protected mice from Stx1 and Stx2 intoxication. Here we report that a single intramuscular (i.m.) injection of a nonreplicating adenovirus (Ad) vector carrying a secretory transgene of VNA-Stx (Ad/VNA-Stx) protected mice challenged with Stx2 and protected gnotobiotic piglets infected with STEC from fatal systemic intoxication. One i.m. dose of Ad/VNA-Stx prevented fatal central nervous system (CNS) symptoms in 9 of 10 animals when it was given to piglets 24 h after bacterial challenge and in 5 of 9 animals when it was given 48 h after bacterial challenge, just prior to the onset of CNS symptoms. All 6 placebo animals died or were euthanized with severe CNS symptoms. Ad/VNA-Stx treatment had no impact on diarrhea. In conclusion, Ad/VNA-Stx treatment is effective in protecting piglets from fatal Stx2-mediated CNS complications following STEC challenge. With a low production cost and further development, this could presumably be an effective treatment for patients with HUS and/or individuals at high risk of developing HUS due to exposure to STEC.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men in the U.S. At present, no single or combination therapy has shown efficacy in decreasing disease progression in patients with metastatic disease. A potentially viable approach for treating late-stage prostate cancer is gene therapy. Adenoviruses (Ad) are the most commonly used mode of gene delivery, but progress using this vector has been hampered by concerns over the safety and practicality of viruses including conditionally replicating Ads (CRAds), particularly for intravenous delivery, and the inefficiency of non-viral transfection techniques. Major challenges for effective gene therapy using Ads are the limited infectivity of regular Ad serotype 5 (Ad5) and the inability to specifically deliver the therapeutic directly into diseased tissue without trapping in the liver or elimination by the immune system. The shortcoming in using Ad5 is mostly attributed to a reduction in Coxsackie-adenovirus receptors (CAR) on the surface of cancer cells, which can be mitigated by generating tropism-modified Ads permitting CAR-independent infection of tumor cells. The limitations of systemic gene delivery can now be overcome by using a novel targeted-delivery approach such as ultrasound (US) contrast agents (microbubbles) to deliver effective therapeutic reagents, Ads, or recombinant proteins, combined with ultrasound-targeted microbubble destruction (UTMD), to develop a site-specific therapy in immune competent transgenic mouse models. These unique strategies for enhancing the efficacy of gene therapy provide a direct path to translation from the laboratory into the clinic for developing an effective gene therapy of prostate cancer.
Few options are available for treating patients with advanced prostate cancer (PC). As PC is a slow growing disease and accessible by ultrasound, gene therapy could provide a viable option for this neoplasm. Conditionally replication-competent adenoviruses (CRCAs) represent potentially useful reagents for treating PC. We previously constructed a CRCA, cancer terminator virus (CTV), which showed efficacy both in vitro and in vivo for PC. The CTV was generated on a serotype 5-background (Ad.5-CTV) with infectivity depending on Coxsackie-Adenovirus Receptors (CARs). CARs are frequently reduced in many tumor types, including PCs thereby limiting effective Ad-mediated therapy. Using serotype chimerism, a novel CTV (Ad.5/3-CTV) was created by replacing the Ad.5 fiber knob with the Ad.3 fiber knob thereby facilitating infection in a CAR-independent manner. We evaluated Ad.5/3-CTV in comparison with Ad.5-CTV in low CAR human PC cells, demonstrating higher efficiency in inhibiting cell viability in vitro. Moreover, Ad.5/3-CTV potently suppressed in vivo tumor growth in a nude mouse xenograft model and in a spontaneously induced PC that develops in Hi-myc transgenic mice. Considering the significant responses in a Phase I clinical trial of a non-replicating Ad.5-mda-7 in advanced cancers, Ad.5/3-CTV may exert improved therapeutic benefit in a clinical setting.
The conditionally replicative adenovirus Ad5/3-Δ24 has a type-3 knob incorporated into the type-5 fiber that facilitates enhanced ovarian cancer infectivity. Preclinical studies have shown that Ad5/3-Δ24 achieves significant oncolysis and antitumor activity in ovarian cancer models. The purpose of this study was to evaluate in a Phase I trial the feasibility and safety of intraperitoneal (IP) Ad5/3-Δ24 in recurrent ovarian cancer patients.
Eligible patients were treated with IP Ad5/3-Δ24 for 3 consecutive days in one of three dose cohorts ranging 1 × 1010–1 × 1012 vp. Toxicity was assessed utilizing CTC grading and efficacy with RECIST. Ascites, serum, and other samples were obtained to evaluate gene transfer, generation of wildtype virus, viral shedding, and antibody response.
Nine of 10 patients completed treatment per protocol. A total of 15 vector-related adverse events were experienced in 5 patients. These events included fever or chills, nausea, fatigue, and myalgia. All were grade 1–2 in nature, transient, and medically managed. Of the 8 treated patients evaluable for response, six patients had stable disease and 2 patients had progressive disease. Three patients had decreased CA-125 from pretreatment levels one month after treatment. Ancillary biologic studies indicated Ad5/3-Δ24 replication in patients in the higher dose cohorts. All patients experienced an anti-adenoviral neutralizing antibody effect.
This study suggests the feasibility and safety of a serotype chimeric infectivity-enhanced CRAd, Ad5/3-Δ24, as a potential therapeutic option for recurrent ovarian cancer patients.
CRAd; gene therapy; infectivity-enhanced adenoviral vectors; ovarian cancer
Adenovirus (Ad)-based gene therapy represents a potentially viable strategy for treating colorectal cancer. The infectivity of serotype 5 adenovirus (Ad.5), routinely used as a transgene delivery vector, is dependent on Coxsackie-adenovirus receptors (CAR). CAR expression is downregulated in many cancers thus preventing optimum therapeutic efficiency of Ad.5-based therapies. To overcome the low CAR problem, a serotype chimerism approach was used to generate a recombinant Ad (Ad.5/3) that is capable of infecting cancer cells via Ad.3 receptors in a CAR-independent manner. We evaluated the improved transgene delivery and efficacy of Ad.5/3 recombinant virus expressing melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24), an effective wide-spectrum cancer-selective therapeutic. In low CAR human colorectal cancer cells RKO, wild-type Ad.5 virus expressing mda-7/IL-24 (Ad.5-mda-7) failed to infect efficiently resulting in lack of expression of MDA-7/IL-24 or induction of apoptosis. However, a recombinant Ad.5/3 virus expressing mda-7/IL-24 (Ad.5/3-mda-7) efficiently infected RKO cells resulting in higher MDA-7/IL-24 expression and inhibition of cell growth both in vitro and in nude mice xenograft models. Addition of the novel Bcl-2 family pharmacological inhibitor Apogossypol derivative BI-97C1 (Sabutoclax) significantly augmented the efficacy of Ad.5/3-mda-7. A combination regimen of suboptimal doses of Ad.5/3-mda-7 and BI-97C1 profoundly enhanced cytotoxicity in RKO cells both in vitro and in vivo. Considering the fact that Ad.5-mda-7 has demonstrated significant objective responses in a Phase I clinical trial for advanced solid tumors, Ad.5/3-mda-7 alone or in combination with BI-97C1 would be predicted to exert significantly improved therapeutic efficacy in colorectal cancer patients.
Viral gene therapy; Mcl-1 inhibition; apoptosis induction; anti-tumor activity
Adenoviral (Ad) vectors show promise as platforms for vaccine applications against infectious diseases including HIV. However, the requirements for eliciting protective neutralizing antibody and cellular immune responses against HIV remain a major challenge. In a novel approach to generate 2F5- and 4E10-like antibodies, we engineered an Ad vector with the HIV membrane proximal ectodomain region (MPER) epitope displayed on the hypervariable region 2 (HVR2) of the viral hexon capsid, instead of expressed as a transgene. The structure and flexibility of MPER epitopes, and the structural context of these epitopes within viral vectors, play important roles in the induced host immune responses. In this regard, understanding the critical factors for epitope presentation would facilitate optimization strategies for developing viral vaccine vectors. Therefore we undertook a cryoEM structural study of this Ad vector, which was previously shown to elicit MPER-specific humoral immune responses. A subnanometer resolution cryoEM structure was analyzed with guided molecular dynamics simulations. Due to the arrangement of hexons within the Ad capsid, there are twelve unique environments for the inserted peptide that lead to a variety of conformations for MPER, including individual α-helices, interacting α-helices, and partially extended forms. This finding is consistent with the known conformational flexibility of MPER. The presence of an extended form, or an induced extended form, is supported by interaction of this vector with the human HIV monoclonal antibody 2F5, which recognizes 14 extended amino acids within MPER. These results demonstrate that the Ad capsid influences epitope structure, flexibility and accessibility, all of which affect the host immune response. In summary, this cryoEM structural study provided a means to visualize an epitope presented on an engineered viral vector and suggested modifications for the next generation of Ad vectors with capsid-incorporated HIV epitopes.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a unique member of the IL-10 gene family that displays nearly ubiquitous cancer-specific toxicity, with no harmful effects toward normal cells or tissues. mda-7/IL-24 was cloned from human melanoma cells by differentiation induction subtraction hybridization (DISH) and promotes endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress culminating in apoptosis or toxic autophagy in a broad-spectrum of human cancers, when assayed in cell culture, in vivo in human tumor xenograft mouse models and in a Phase I clinical trial in patients with advanced cancers. This therapeutically active cytokine also induces indirect anti-tumor activity through inhibition of angiogenesis, stimulation of an anti-tumor immune response, and sensitization of cancer cells to radiation-, chemotherapy- and antibody-induced killing.
mda-7/IL-24; apoptosis; autophagy; bystander antitumor activity; cancer terminator virus
Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24), a cytokine belonging to the IL-10 family, selectively induces apoptosis in cancer cells without harming normal cells by promoting an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response. The precise molecular mechanism by which the ER stress response culminates in cell death requires further clarification. The present study shows that in prostate carcinoma cells, the mda-7/IL-24-induced ER stress response causes apoptosis by translational inhibition of the antiapoptotic protein myeloid cell leukemia-1 (Mcl-1). Forced expression of Mcl-1 blocked mda-7/IL-24 lethality, whereas RNA interference or gene knockout of Mcl-1 markedly sensitized transformed cells to mda-7/IL-24. Mcl-1 downregulation by mda-7/IL-24 relieved its association with the proapoptotic protein Bak, causing oligomerization of Bak and leading to cell death. These observations show the profound role of the Bcl-2 protein family member Mcl-1 in regulating cancer-specific apoptosis induced by this cytokine. Thus, our studies provide further insights into the molecular mechanism of ER stress-induced cancer-selective apoptosis by mda-7/IL-24. As Mcl-1 is overexpressed in the majority of prostate cancers, mda-7/IL-24 might provide an effective therapeutic for this disease.
We have determined whether an adenovirus that comprises the tail and shaft domains of a serotype 5 virus and the knob domain of a serotype 3 virus expressing MDA-7/IL-24, Ad.5/3-mda-7, more effectively infects and kills renal carcinoma cells (RCCs) compared to a serotype 5 virus, Ad.5-mda-7. RCCs are a tumor cell type that generally does not express the receptor for the type 5 adenovirus; the coxsakie and adenovirus receptor (CAR). Ad.5/3-mda-7 infected RCCs to a much greater degree than Ad.5-mda-7. MDA-7/IL-24 protein secreted from Ad.5/3-mda-7-infected RCCs induced MDA-7/IL-24 expression and promoted apoptosis in uninfected “bystander” RCCs. MDA-7/IL-24 killed both infected and bystander RCCs via CD95 activation. Knockdown of intracellular MDA-7/IL-24 in uninfected RCCs blocked the lethal effects of conditioned media. Infection of RCC tumors in one flank, with Ad.5/3-mda-7, suppressed growth of infected tumors and reduced the growth rate of uninfected tumors implanted on the opposite flank. The toxicity of the serotype 5/3 recombinant adenovirus to express MDA-7/IL-24 was enhanced by combined molecular or small molecule inhibition of MEK1/2 and PI3K; inhibition of mTOR, PI3K and MEK1/2; or use of the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib. In RCCs, combined inhibition of cytoprotective cell signaling pathways enhanced the MDA-7/IL-24-induction of CD95 activation, with greater mitochondrial dysfunction due to loss of MCL-1 and BCL-XL expression and tumor cell death. Treatment of RCC tumors in vivo with sorafenib also enhanced Ad.5/3-mda-7 toxicity and prolonged animal survival. Future combinations of these approaches hold promise for developing a more effective therapy for kidney cancer.
ERK; JNK; PI3K; AKT; MDA-7/IL-24; sorafenib; PERK; MAPK; interleukin; RCC; kidney
Maturation via proteolytical processing is a common trait in the viral world, and is often accompanied by large conformational changes and rearrangements in the capsid. The adenovirus protease has been shown to play a dual role in the viral infectious cycle: (a) in maturation, as viral assembly starts with precursors to several of the structural proteins, but ends with proteolytically processed versions in the mature virion; and (b) in entry, because protease-impaired viruses have difficulties in endosome escape and uncoating. Indeed, viruses that have not undergone proteolytical processing are not infectious. We present the 3D structure of immature adenovirus particles, as represented by the thermosensitive mutant Ad2 ts1 grown under non-permissive conditions, and compare it with the mature capsid. Our 3DEM maps at subnanometer resolution indicate that adenovirus maturation does not involve large scale conformational changes in the capsid. Difference maps reveal the location of unprocessed peptides pIIIa and pVI and help to define their role in capsid assembly and maturation. An intriguing difference appears in the core, indicating a more compact organization and increased stability of the immature cores. We have further investigated these properties by in vitro disassembly assays. Fluorescence and electron microscopy experiments reveal differences in the stability and uncoating of immature viruses, both at the capsid and core levels, as well as disassembly intermediates not previously imaged.
Adenovirus; virus maturation; virus uncoating; virus structure; three-dimensional electron microscopy
Minor coat protein IIIa is conserved in all adenoviruses and required for correct viral assembly, but its precise function in capsid organization is unknown. The latest adenovirus capsid model proposes that IIIa is located underneath the vertex region. To obtain experimental evidence on the location of IIIa and further define its role, we engineered the IIIa gene to encode heterologous N-terminal peptide extensions. Recombinant adenovirus variants with IIIa encoding six-histidine tag (6-His), 6-His and FLAG peptides, or 6-His linked to FLAG with a (Gly4Ser)3 linker were rescued and analyzed for virus yield, capsid incorporation of heterologous peptides, and capsid stability. Longer extensions could not be rescued. Western blot analysis confirmed that the modified IIIa proteins were expressed in infected cells and incorporated into virions. In the adenovirus encoding the 6-His-linker-FLAG-IIIa gene, the 6-His tag was present in light particles but not in mature virions. Immuno-electron microscopy of this virus showed that the FLAG epitope is not accessible to antibodies on the viral particles. Three-dimensional electron microscopy (3DEM) and difference mapping located the IIIa N-terminal extension beneath the vertex complex, wedged at the interface between penton base and the peripentonal hexons, therefore supporting the latest proposed model. The position of the IIIa N-terminus and its low tolerance for modification provide new clues for understanding the role of this minor coat protein in adenovirus capsid assembly and disassembly.
Adenovirus; polypeptide IIIa; minor coat protein; virus structure; three-dimensional electron microscopy
The utility of the present generation of adenovirus (Ad) vectors for gene therapy applications could be improved by restricting native viral tropism to selected cell types. In order to achieve modification of Ad tropism, we proposed to exploit a minor component of viral capsid, protein IX (pIX), for genetic incorporation of targeting ligands. Based on the proposed structure of pIX, we hypothesized that its C terminus could be used as a site for incorporation of heterologous peptide sequences. We engineered recombinant Ad vectors containing modified pIX carrying a carboxy-terminal Flag epitope along with a heparan sulfate binding motif consisting of either eight consecutive lysines or a polylysine sequence. Using an anti-Flag antibody, we have shown that modified pIXs are incorporated into virions and display Flag-containing C-terminal sequences on the capsid surface. In addition, both lysine octapeptide and polylysine ligands were accessible for binding to heparin-coated beads. In contrast to virus bearing lysine octapeptide, Ad vector displaying a polylysine was capable of recognizing cellular heparan sulfate receptors. We have demonstrated that incorporation of a polylysine motif into the pIX ectodomain results in a significant augmentation of Ad fiber knob-independent infection of CAR-deficient cell types. Our data suggest that the pIX ectodomain can serve as an alternative to the fiber knob, penton base, and hexon proteins for incorporation of targeting ligands for the purpose of Ad tropism modification.