Oncotarget. 2014 Aug 15;5(15):5893-907.

Eradication of metastatic melanoma through cooperative expression of RNA-based HDAC1 inhibitor and p73 by oncolytic adenovirus.

Schipper H, Alla V, Meier C, Nettelbeck DM, Herchenröder O, Pützer BM.
Malignant melanoma is a highly aggressive cancer that retains functional p53 and p73, and drug unresponsiveness largely depends on defects in death pathways after epigenetic gene silencing in conjunction with an imbalanced p73/DNp73 ratio. We constructed oncolytic viruses armed with an inhibitor of deacetylation and/or p73 to specifically target metastatic cancer. Arming of the viruses is aimed at lifting epigenetic blockage and re-opening apoptotic programs in a staggered manner enabling both, efficient virus replication and balanced destruction of target cells through apoptosis. Our results showed that cooperative expression of shHDAC1 and p73 efficiently enhances apoptosis induction and autophagy of infected cells which reinforces progeny production. In vitro analyses revealed 100% cytotoxicity after infecting cells with OV.shHDAC1.p73 at a lower virus dose compared to control viruses. Intriguingly, OV.shHDAC1.p73 acts as a potent inhibitor of highly metastatic xenograft tumors in vivo. Tumor expansion was significantly reduced after intratumoral injection of 3 x 108 PFU of either OV.shHDAC1 or OV.p73 and, most important, complete regression could be achieved in 100 % of tumors treated with OV.shHDAC1.p73. Our results point out that the combination of high replication capacity and simultaneous restoration of cell death routes significantly enhance antitumor activity.
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Obituary: Axel Rethwilm (1959-2014).