Modulation of the Type I Interferon Response Defines the Sensitivity of Human Melanoma Cells to Oncolytic Measles Virus

Curr Gene Ther. 2017;16(6):419-428. doi: 10.2174/1566523217666170102110502.


Background: Oncolytic viruses such as live-attenuated, vaccine strains of measles virus (MV) have recently emerged as promising cancer treatments, having shown significant antitumor activity against a large variety of human tumors.

Objective: Our study aims at determining which parameters define the sensitivity of human melanoma cells to oncolytic MV infection.

Methods: We analyzed both in vitro and in vivo the oncolytic activity of MV against a panel of human melanoma cell established in our laboratory. We tested whether either type I interferons or the interferon pathway inhibitor Ruxolitinib could modulate the sensitivity of these cells to oncolytic MV infection.

Results: Human melanoma cells exhibit varying levels of sensitivity to MV infection in culture and as tumor xenografts. As these differences are not explained by their expression level of the CD46 receptor, we hypothesized that antiviral immune responses may be suppressed in certain cell resulting in their inability to control infection efficiently. By analyzing the type I IFN response, we found that resistant cells had a fully functional pathway that was activated upon MV infection. On the contrary, sensitive cell showed defects in this pathway. When pre-treated with IFN-α and IFN-β, all but one of the sensitive cell became resistant to MV. Cells resistant to MV were rendered sensitive to MV with Ruxolitinib.

Conclusion: Type I interferon response is the main determinant for the sensitivity or resistance of melanoma to oncolytic MV infection. This will have to be taken into account for future clinical trials on oncolytic MV.

Keywords: Cancer virotherapy; Interferon; Measles virus; Melanoma; Oncolytic; Ruxolitinib..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I / genetics
  • Interferon Type I / therapeutic use*
  • Measles virus / genetics*
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Melanoma / virology
  • Membrane Cofactor Protein / genetics
  • Mice
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy*
  • Oncolytic Viruses / genetics
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Interferon Type I
  • Membrane Cofactor Protein