Research Papers:

Late-phase miRNA-controlled oncolytic adenovirus for selective killing of cancer cells

Xavier Bofill-De Ros, Eneko Villanueva and Cristina Fillat _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:6179-6190. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3350

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Xavier Bofill-De Ros1,2,*, Eneko Villanueva1,* and Cristina Fillat1,2

1 Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain

2 Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER), Barcelona, Spain

* These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Cristina Fillat, email:

Keywords: Oncolytic adenovirus, fiber protein, L5 gene, miRNAs, pancreatic cancer

Received: October 03, 2014 Accepted: January 12, 2015 Published: January 31, 2015


Tissue-specific detargeting by miRNAs has been demonstrated to be a potent strategy to restrict adenoviral replication to cancer cells. These studies have generated adenoviruses with miRNA target sites placed in the 3’UTR of early gene products. In this work, we have studied the feasibility of providing tissue-specific selectivity to replication-competent adenoviruses through the regulation of the late structural protein fiber (L5 gene). We have engineered a 3’UTR containing eight miR-148a binding sites downstream the L5 coding sequence (Ad-L5-8miR148aT). We present in vitro and in vivo evidences of Ad-L5-8miR148aT miRNA-dependent regulation. In vitro data show that at 72 hours post-infection miR-148a-regulation impaired fiber expression leading to a 70% reduction of viral release. The application of seven consecutive rounds of infection in miR-148a cells resulted in 10.000-fold reduction of viral genomes released. In vivo, liver production of infective viral particles was highly impaired, similarly to that triggered by an adenovirus with miRNA target sites regulating the early E1A gene. Noticeably, mice treated with Ad-L5-8miR148aT showed an attenuation of adenoviral-induced hepatotoxicity but retained full lytic activity in cancer cells and exhibited robust antitumoral responses in patient-derived xenografts. Thus, miRNA-control of late proteins constitutes a novel strategy to provide selectivity to adenoviruses.

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