Blocking the RNA Interference Pathway Improves Oncolytic Virus Therapy

Title: Blocking the RNA Interference Pathway Improves Oncolytic Virus Therapy
Authors: Aitken, Amelia
Date: 2017
Abstract: Oncolytic viruses are novel candidates for cancer therapy and their efficacy relies on their capacity to overcome the host’s anti-viral barriers. In mammalian cells, the anti-viral response involves a protein-signaling cascade known as the interferon pathway, which alerts the immune system and limits the propagation of infection. Given that most cancer cells have defects in this pathway, they are susceptible to viral infection and responsive to oncolytic virotherapy. For reasons that remain unknown, many cancers are still refractory to oncolytic viruses, which suggests the existence of additional antiviral mechanisms. In this study, we investigate the potential involvement of an alternative antiviral pathway in cancer cells. Given that insects and plants rely on the RNA silencing pathway for their anti-viral protection, we investigated the presence of a similar mechanism in cancer cells. We found viral genome-derived small RNAs in various cancer cell lines upon infection, which is indicative of an RNA-mediated antiviral response. Also, various viruses encode suppressors of the RNA interference pathway. To determine if an oncolytic virus could benefit from such a factor, we engineered an oncolytic virus variant to encode the Nodamura virus B2 protein, a known inhibitor of RNA silencing-mediated immune responses. Using this virus, we observed enhanced cytotoxicity in 33 out of the 38 human cancer cell lines tested. Furthermore, our results show inhibition of viral genome cleavage and altered microRNA processing by our B2-expressing oncolytic virus. Taken together, our data suggests the blockade of RNA silencing antiviral pathways and/or antiviral microRNA processing improves the efficacy of our B2-encoding virus in a cell-line specific manner. Overall, our results establish the improved potential of our novel virus therapy and demonstrate for the first time the involvement of RNA pathways in the antiviral defense of cancer cells.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -