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Procaspase‐3 enhances the in vitro effect of cytosine deaminase–thymidine kinase disuicide gene therapy on human ovarian cancer
  1. Y. Song*,
  2. B. Kong*,
  3. D. Ma,
  4. X. Qu and
  5. S. Jiang*
  1. *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Qilu Hospital, Shandong University, Jinan, China
  2. Department of Oncology and Hematology, Qilu Hospital, Shandong University, Jinan, China
  3. Basic Medicine Research Institute, Qilu Hospital, Shandong University, Jinan, China
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Beihua Kong, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Qilu Hospital, Shandong University, Jinan 250012, People's Republic of China. Email: kongbeihua{at}


Because the efficacy of genetic prodrug activation therapy (GPAT) using herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (tk)/ganciclovir (GCV) or Escherichia coli cytosine deaminase (cd)/5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) is not satisfied in early clinical trials and the mechanism of both the GPATs have been shown to lead to the activation of cell apoptotic pathway, we hypothesized that coexpression of procaspase-3, a central downstream executioner of apoptotic pathways, with cd-tk gene leads to enhanced cell death in ovarian cancer cells in vitro. Following transfection with the vectors encoding cd and tk, 5-FC and GCV treatments lead to greater cell death in procaspase-3–expressing clones of 3AO (3AO-caspase-3) than control cells (3AO-pcDNA3), as well as more rapid activation of caspase-3 and more rapid cleavage of poly (adenosine diphosphate–ribose) polymerase (PARP). There is a greater degree of cell apoptotic rate in the procaspase-3–expressing clones than in control cells following the treatment with cd-tk/5-FC + GCV, and apoptosis is the main cell death form. None of these effects is seen following transfection with a control vector that does not encode tk and cd (pBTdel-279). The results strongly suggest that coexpression of procaspase-3 may lead to a significant enhancement of the efficacy of cd-tk/5-FC + GCV, and this strategy would be a novel and promising approach for the treatment of ovarian cancer.

  • caspase-3
  • cd-tk
  • 5-fluorocytosine
  • ganciclovir
  • ovarian cancer

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