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Autocatalytic Caspase-3 Driven by Human Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase Promoter Suppresses Human Ovarian Carcinoma Growth In Vitro and in Mice
  1. Yue Song*,
  2. Zhijun Xia, MD*,
  3. Keng Shen and
  4. Xingyue Zhai*
  1. *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, ShengJing Hospital, China Medical University, Shenyang, China; and
  2. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Zhijun Xia, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, ShengJing Hospital, China Medical University, 36 Sanhao St, Heping District, Shen yang, 110004, China. E-mail:


Objectives To construct recombinant adenoviruses AdHT-rev-casp3 and Ad-rev-casp3, which express autocatalysis caspase-3 driven by human telomerase reverse transcriptase promoter and cytomegalovirus promoter, respectively; and to investigate their antitumor effects on ovarian cancer in vitro and in vivo.

Methods Cell viabilities were determined using the cell counting kit 8 and flow cytometry. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunoblotting assays were used to detect cellular apoptotic activities after treatments. Tumor growth and survival of mice bearing AO cells were studied.

Results AdHT-rev-casp3 significantly suppressed the survival of AO cells in a dose-dependent modality with a viability rate of 60.45% ± 7.8% at an multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 70 and 42.18 ± 5.3% at an MOI of 100, which was somewhat lower than that of the AO cells treated with Ad-rev-casp3 (32.28% ± 5.3% and 21.84% ± 3.4%, respectively). In contrast, AdHT-rev-casp3 induced little human umbilical vein epithelial cell (HUVEC) death with a viability rate of 98.52% ± 6.9% at an MOI of 70, whereas Ad-rev-casp3 induced significant cell death in HUVEC with a viability rate of 27.14% ± 5.4%. Additionally, AdHT-rev-casp3 (MOI = 70) caused significant apoptosis in AO cells with an apoptotic rate of 25.97%, whereas it caused undetectable apoptosis in HUVECs with the rate of only 1.75%. Ad-rev-casp3 (MOI = 70) caused strong apoptosis in both AO and HUVECs, with the rate of 35.82% and 38.12%, respectively. AdHT-rev-casp3 caused markedly higher levels of active caspase-3, causing no detectable active caspase-3 expression in HUVECs. The tumor growth suppression rate of AdHT-rev-casp3 was 54.94%, significantly higher than that of phosphate-buffered saline at the end point of the study. AdHT-rev-casp3 significantly improved the survival of mice receiving intraperitoneal inoculation of AO cells with little liver damage, with the mean survival of 177 ± 12 days.

Conclusions AdHT-rev-casp3 causes effective apoptosis with significant tumor selectivity, suppresses tumor growth, and improves the mouse survival with little liver toxicity. It can be a potent therapeutic agent for the tumor-targeting treatment of ovarian cancer.

  • hTERT
  • Promoter
  • Autocatalytic caspase-3
  • Therapy
  • Human ovarian carcinoma

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  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.