Oncolytic Tanapoxvirus Expressing Interleukin-2 is Capable of Inducing the Regression of Human Melanoma Tumors in the Absence of T Cells

Author(s): Tiantian Zhang, Dennis H. Kordish, Yogesh R. Suryawanshi, Rob R. Eversole, Steven Kohler, Charles D. Mackenzie, Karim Essani*

Journal Name: Current Cancer Drug Targets

Volume 18 , Issue 6 , 2018

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Graphical Abstract:


Background: Oncolytic viruses (OVs), which preferentially infect cancer cells and induce host anti-tumor immune responses, have emerged as an effective melanoma therapy. Tanapoxvirus (TANV), which possesses a large genome and causes mild self-limiting disease in humans, is potentially an ideal OV candidate. Interleukin-2 (IL-2), a T-cell growth factor, plays a critical role in activating T cells, natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages in both the innate and adaptive immune system.

Objective: We aimed to develop a recombinant TANV expressing mouse IL-2 (TANVΔ66R/mIL- 2), replacing the viral thymidine kinase (TK) gene (66R) with the mouse (m) mIL-2 transgene resulting in TANVΔ66R/mIL-2.

Methods: Human melanoma tumors were induced in female athymic nude mice by injecting SKMEL- 3 cells subcutaneously. Mice were treated with an intratumoral injection of viruses when the tumor volumes reached 45 ± 4.5 mm3.

Results: In cell culture, expression of IL-2 attenuated virus replication of not only TANVΔ66R/ mIL-2, but also TANVGFP. It was demonstrated that IL-2 inhibited virus replication through intracellular components and without activating the interferon-signaling pathway. Introduction of mIL-2 into TANV remarkably increased its anti-tumor activity, resulting in a more significant regression than with wild-type (wt) TANV and TANVΔ66R. Histopathological studies showed that extensive cell degeneration with a significantly increased peri-tumor accumulation of mononuclear cells in the tumors treated with TANVΔ66R/mIL-2, compared to wtTANV or TANVΔ66R.

Conclusion: We conclude that TANVΔ66R/mIL-2 is potentially therapeutic for human melanomas in the absence of T cells, and IL-2 expression resulted in an overall increase of therapeutic efficacy.

Keywords: Oncolytic virotherapy, immunotherapy, melanoma, tanapoxvirus, interleulin 2, innate immunity, virus replication.

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Article Details

Year: 2018
Published on: 11 June, 2018
Page: [577 - 591]
Pages: 15
DOI: 10.2174/1568009617666170630143931
Price: $65

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