Gene therapy of murine solid tumors with T cells transduced with a retroviral vascular endothelial growth factor--immunotoxin target gene

Hum Gene Ther. 2002 Mar 1;13(4):497-508. doi: 10.1089/10430340252809793.


Solid tumor growth can be inhibited by targeting its neovasculature with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-toxin fusion proteins (FPs), but these agents have been limited by their inability to localize at the tumor site. In this study, we devised a gene therapy approach intended to deliver VEGF-toxin directly to tumor. Antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) served as vehicles to deliver a retroviral VEGF-toxin fusion protein to its specific leukemia cell target in vivo. A retroviral vector was constructed for gene therapy with VEGF positioned downstream of its 27-amino acid leader sequence, which promoted secretion of a catalytic immunotoxin containing either truncated diphtheria toxin or Pseudomonas exotoxin A. VEGF was chosen on the basis of the expression of VEGF receptor on endothelial cells in the tumor neovasculature. The VEGF FP was first expressed and secreted by mammalian NIH 3T3 cells. Intracellular expression of both VEGF and toxin was verified by immunofluorescence. In vitro, supernatants collected from transfected cells specifically inhibited the growth of VEGF receptor-expressing human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), but not a control cell line. In vivo findings correlated with in vitro findings. A retroviral vector containing the target gene and a nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR) reporter gene was used to transiently transduce T15, a CD8(+) CTL line that specifically recognizes C1498, a lethal C57BL/6 myeloid tumor. Transduced T15 cells injected intravenously significantly inhibited the growth of subcutaneous tumor, whereas nontransduced controls did not. Together, these data indicate that gene therapy of T cells with retrovirus containing a VEGF-immunotoxin target gene may be a valid means of inhibiting a broad range of solid tumors dependent on angiogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Diphtheria Toxin / therapeutic use*
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / physiology*
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Immunotoxins / immunology
  • Immunotoxins / therapeutic use*
  • Lymphokines / physiology*
  • Lymphokines / therapeutic use
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / immunology
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / therapy*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / therapy
  • Retroviridae*
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Diphtheria Toxin
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Immunotoxins
  • Lymphokines
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors