Tumor-specific gene expression in hepatic metastases by a replication-activated adenovirus vector

Nat Med. 2001 Feb;7(2):240-3. doi: 10.1038/84696.


Clinical applications of tumor gene therapy require tumor-specific delivery or expression of therapeutic genes in order to maximize the oncolytic index and minimize side effects. This study demonstrates activation of transgene expression exclusively in hepatic metastases after systemic application of a modified first-generation (E1A/E1B-deleted) adenovirus vector (AdE1-) in mouse tumor models. The discrimination between tumors and normal liver tissue is based on selective DNA replication of AdE1- vectors in tumor cells. This new AdE1- based vector system uses homologous recombination between inverted repeats to mediate precise rearrangements within the viral genome. As a result of these rearrangements, a promoter is brought into conjunction with a reporter gene creating a functional expression cassette. Genomic rearrangements are dependent upon viral DNA replication, which in turn occurs specifically in tumor cells. In a mouse tumor model with liver metastases derived from human tumor cells, a single systemic administration of replication activated AdE1- vectors achieved transgene expression in every metastasis, whereas no extra-tumoral transgene induction was observed. Here we provide a new concept for tumor-specific gene expression that is also applicable for other conditionally replicating adenovirus vectors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / growth & development
  • Adenoviridae / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Vectors / physiology*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Virus Activation*
  • Virus Replication*
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics


  • beta-Galactosidase