Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Identification and characterization of alphavirus M1 as a selective oncolytic virus targeting ZAP-defective human cancers.

PMID 25288727


Oncolytic virotherapy is a growing treatment modality that uses replicating viruses as selective antineoplastic agents. Safety and efficacy considerations dictate that an ideal oncolytic agent would discriminate between normal and cancer cells on the basis of common genetic abnormalities in human cancers. Here, we identify a naturally occurring alphavirus (M1) as a novel selective killer targeting zinc-finger antiviral protein (ZAP)-deficient cancer cells. In vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo studies showed potent oncolytic efficacy and high tumor tropism of M1. We showed that the selectivity depends on ZAP deficiency by systematic identification. A large-scale multicenter pathology study using tissue microarrays reveals that ZAP is commonly deficient in human cancers, suggesting extensive application prospects for M1. Additionally, M1 killed cancer cells by inducing endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated apoptosis. Our report provides novel insights into potentially personalized cancer therapy using oncolytic viruses.