Fluorescent Tagged Vaccinia Virus Genome Allows Rapid and Efficient Measurement of Oncolytic Potential and Discovery of Oncolytic Modulators

Biomedicines. 2020 Nov 26;8(12):543. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines8120543.


As a live biologic agent, oncolytic vaccinia virus has the ability to target and selectively amplify at tumor sites. We have previously reported that deletion of thymidine kinase and ribonucleotide reductase genes in vaccinia virus can increase the safety and efficacy of the virus. Here, to allow direct visualization of the viral genome in living cells, we incorporated the ANCH target sequence and the OR3-Santaka gene in the double-deleted vaccinia virus. Infection of human tumor cells with ANCHOR3-tagged vaccinia virus enables visualization and quantification of viral genome dynamics in living cells. The results show that the ANCHOR technology permits the measurement of the oncolytic potential of the double deleted vaccinia virus. Quantitative analysis of infection kinetics and of viral DNA replication allow rapid and efficient identification of inhibitors and activators of oncolytic activity. Our results highlight the potential application of the ANCHOR technology to track vaccinia virus and virtually any kind of poxvirus in living cells.

Keywords: fluorescence labeling; live cell imaging; oncolytic vaccinia virus; poxvirus modulators.