AbstractOBJECTIVE:Experimental brain tumor gene therapy with the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSV-tk) gene has demonstrated that not only HSV-tk transduced but surrounding non-HSV-tk transduced cells are killed when given ganciclovir. This so-called bystander effect has recently been shown to be dependent on connexin-mediated intercellular communication. To assess potential susceptibility to the bystander effect, we examined levels of connexin-26 and connexin-43 expression in a series of primary brain tumors. Connexin-26 expression has not previously been studied in primary brain tumors and connexin-43 expression has not been studied in nonastro- cytic primary brain tumors. We also attempted to enhance the bystander effect in vitro by overexpressing connexin in tumor cells with high basal levels of connexin expression.METHODS:Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry were used to determine levels of connexin-26 and connexin-43 expression in a series of primary brain tumors. Wild-type 9L gliosarcoma cells were transfected in vitro with the connexin-43 gene and the HSV-tk gene or the HSV-tk gene alone. The bystander effect of each transfectant was then assessed and compared.RESULTS:Most of the primary brain tumors tested, including low-grade astrocytomas, anaplastic astrocytomas, glioblastomas, oligodendrogliomas, gangliogliomas, meningiomas, and medulloblastomas, showed connexin-26 and connexin-43 expression. Bystander experiments revealed a significant enhancement of the bystander effect in the gliosarcoma cells transfected with connexin-43 and HSV-tk, as compared with gliosarcoma cells transfectedwith HSV-tk alone.CONCLUSION:Most primary brain tumors express connexin-26 and connexin-43. This suggests that most primary brain tumors may be susceptible to the bystander effect of HSV-tk gene therapy. The bystander effect can be enhanced in vitro by overexpression of connexin-43 in a cell line with a high basal level of connexin-43 expression.
Neurosurgery – Oxford University Press
Published: Feb 1, 1999
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