Gene transfer to hepatocellular carcinoma: transduction efficacy and transgene expression kinetics by using retroviral and lentiviral vectors

Cancer Gene Ther. 2000 Sep;7(9):1286-92. doi: 10.1038/sj.cgt.7700225.


Gene therapy is an attractive therapy for hepatocarcinoma, and several approaches have been studied using murine leukemia virus-derived retroviruses. We compared gene transfer efficacy and transgene expression kinetics after transduction of hepatocarcinoma cell lines using enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-expressing murine leukemia virus-derived retroviral vectors and HIV-derived lentiviral vectors. First, we showed that both retroviral and lentiviral vectors efficiently transduce cycling hepatocarcinoma cell lines in vitro. However, after cell cycle arrest, transduction efficacy remained the same for lentiviral vectors but it decreased by 80% for retroviral vectors. Second, we studied EGFP expression kinetics using lentiviral vectors expressing EGFP under the control of cytomegalovirus (CMV) or phosphoglycerolkinase (PGK) promoter. We show that the CMV promoter allows a stronger EGFP expression than the PGK promoter. However, in contrast to PGK-driven EGFP expression, which persists up to 2 months after transduction, CMV-driven EGFP expression rapidly decreased with time. This phenomenon is due to promoter silencing, and EGFP expression can be restored in transduced cells by using transcription activators such as interleukin-6 or phorbol myristate acetate/ionomycin and, to a lesser extent, the demethylating agent 5'-azacytidine. Altogether, our results suggest that lentiviral vectors, which allow efficient transduction of hepatocarcinoma cell lines with a strong and a sustained expression according to the promoter used, are promising tools for gene therapy of hepatocarcinomas.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Azacitidine / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / virology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • HIV / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology
  • Ionomycin / pharmacology
  • Kinetics
  • Leukemia Virus, Murine / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / virology
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Transduction, Genetic / methods*
  • Transgenes / genetics*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects


  • Interleukin-6
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Ionomycin
  • Dexamethasone
  • Azacitidine
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate