Suicide gene therapy (SGT) is a promising strategy for treating cancer. In this work, we show that thymidine phosphorylase (TP) deficiency, the underlying genetic defect in mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE), presents an opportunity to apply SGT using capecitabine, a commonly used prodrug that is converted into 5-fluorouracil by TP. Using an immortalised B-lymphoblastoid cell line from a patient with MNGIE, the tumourigenic EL-4 cell line, lentiviral vectors encoding TP and a double knockout (Tymp-/- Upp1-/-) murine model, we found that EL-4 cell-derived TP + tumours were exquisitely sensitive to capecitabine and generated a significant local bystander effect. In addition, we detected a spontaneous cytolytic immune response in a significant fraction of the animals surviving more than 20 days after termination of the therapy. These data indicate that, in individuals lacking TP expression, TP is a highly specific suicide gene, which can be used to treat tumours that could hypothetically arise in MNGIE patients undergoing gene therapy, as these tumours will likely originate from the gene-modified cells and will be selectively targeted by capecitabine. These observations have important implications for gene therapy for MNGIE. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2014|