Comparison of infectivity and spread between HSV-1 and HSV-2 based oncolytic viruses on tumor cells with different receptor expression profiles

Oncotarget. 2018 Apr 20;9(30):21348-21358. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.25096.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is one of the many viruses that have been modified or adapted for oncolytic purposes. There are two serotypes of HSV, HSV-1 and HSV-2. The majority of oncolytic HSVs, including T-VEC which has recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical use in treating late stage melanoma patients, are derived from HSV-1. Recently, we and others have developed several HSV-2 based oncolytic viruses. During our in vitro characterization of oncolytic viruses developed from both serotypes (Baco-1 from HSV-1 and FusOn-H2 from HSV-2), we noticed there is a subpopulation of cancer cells in which both viruses could infect but only FusOn-H2 could spread from cell to cell on monolayers. This observation prompted us to investigate the virus receptor expression profiles in these and other tumor cells. Our data show the following: 1) This subpopulation of tumor cells only express nectin-2, not the other two major receptors (HVEM or nectin-1). 2) Baco-1 grows to a higher titer than FusOn-H2 in this subpopulation of tumor cells, but the latter kills these tumor cells more efficiently than the former. 3) FusOn-H2 is effective at treating tumors formed from these tumor cells while Baco-1 is completely ineffective. Our results suggest that this subpopulation of tumor cells may be intrinsically resistant to the therapeutic effect of a HSV-1 based oncolytic virus but they remain sensitive to a HSV-2 based virotherapy.

Keywords: infectivity; oncolytic herpes simplex virus; virotherapy; virus entry; virus receptors.