Background: Translation initiation factor eIF4E unwinds long 5′-untranslated regions of certain tightly regulated mRNAs and, thereby, facilitates their translation into proteins. eIF4E has been shown to be overexpressed in a majority of solid tumors, including head and neck cancers. To exploit this dysregulation, a long 5′-untranslated region was spliced upstream of a thymidine kinase (Tk) gene to enhance translation of this "suicide" gene within cells overexpressing eIF4E. We investigated the efficacy of therapy with an adenovirus incorporating this novel suicide gene (Ad-HSV-UTk) following cytoreductive tumor surgery in improving disease-free and overall survival in a mouse soft-tissue metastasis model for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Materials and methods: SCC-7 (orally-derived mouse SCCa) cells were treated with Ad-HSV-Tk, Ad-HSV-UTk, Ad-null, or saline and characterized for eIF4E and Tk levels by Western blot analysis. Cytotoxicities for cells treated with Ad-HSV-Tk, Ad-HSV-UTk, or Ad-null were quantified by MTS assay. Mice bearing SCC-7-induced tumors received cytoreduction followed by Ad-HSV-UTk + ganciclovir (GCV) or control treatment and were followed for disease-free and overall survival. Results: SCC-7 cells showed uniformly high levels of eIF4E but elevated Tk for Ad-HSV-Tk- and Ad-HSV-UTk-treated cells over Ad-null-treated cells. Cytotoxicities for Ad-HSV-Tk- and Ad-HSV-UTk-treated cells were, correspondingly, observed to be 100-fold more sensitive than Ad-null-treated cells to GCV treatment. Cytoreduced mice receiving Ad-HSV-UTk + GCV treatment showed significantly longer disease-free survival (P = 0.0045) than control arm mice. Conclusions: Ad-HSV-UTk suicide gene therapy prolonged disease-free survival in a mouse minimal residual soft-tissue head and neck squamous cell carcinoma metastasis model.
- head and neck cancer
- squamous cell carcinoma