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PloS one

Myxoma virus expressing a fusion protein of interleukin-15 (IL15) and IL15 receptor alpha has enhanced antitumor activity.


PMID 25329832

Abstract

Myxoma virus, a rabbit poxvirus, can efficiently infect various types of mouse and human cancer cells. It is a strict rabbit-specific pathogen, and is thought to be safe as a therapeutic agent in all non-rabbit hosts tested including mice and humans. Interleukin-15 (IL15) is an immuno-modulatory cytokine with significant potential for stimulating anti-tumor T lymphocytes and NK cells. Co-expression of IL15 with the α subunit of IL15 receptor (IL15Rα) greatly enhances IL15 stability and bioavailability. Therefore, we engineered a new recombinant myxoma virus (vMyx-IL15Rα-tdTr), which expresses an IL15Rα-IL15 fusion protein plus tdTomato red fluorescent reporter protein. Permissive rabbit kidney epithelial (RK-13) cells infected with vMyx-IL15Rα-tdTr expressed and secreted the IL15Rα-IL15 fusion protein. Functional activity was confirmed by demonstrating that the secreted fusion protein stimulated proliferation of cytokine-dependent CTLL-2 cells. Multi-step growth curves showed that murine melanoma (B16-F10 and B16.SIY) cell lines were permissive to vMyx-IL15Rα-tdTr infection. In vivo experiments in RAG1-/- mice showed that subcutaneous B16-F10 tumors treated with vMyx-IL15Rα-tdTr exhibited attenuated tumor growth and a significant survival benefit for the treated group compared to the PBS control and the control viruses (vMyx-IL15-tdTr and vMyx-tdTr). Immunohistological analysis of the subcutaneous tumors showed dramatically increased infiltration of NK cells in vMyx-IL15Rα-tdTr treated tumors compared to the controls. In vivo experiments with immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice revealed a strong infiltrate of both NK cells and CD8+ T cells in response to vMyx-IL15Rα-tdTr, and prolonged survival. We conclude that delivery of IL15Rα-IL15 in a myxoma virus vector stimulates both innate and adaptive components of the immune system.