Breast cancer-specific expression of the Candida albicans cytosine deaminase gene using a transcriptional targeting approach

Leonard M. Anderson, Stephan Krotz, Sigmund A. Weitzman, Bayar Thimmapaya*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


We constructed a series of adenoviral (Ad) vectors that express the Candida albicans cytosine deaminase (CD) suicide gene under the transcriptional control of either the human α-lactalbumin (ALA) or ovine β- lactoglobulin (BLG) promoter (Ad.ALA.CD and Ad.BLG.CD, respectively). The Ad.ALA.CD and the Ad.BLG.CD vectors converted the prodrug 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) to the toxic nucleotide analog 5-fluorouracil in a breast cancer cell- specific manner, with a conversion rate of 40% and 52% in T47D cells and 50% and 41% in MCF7 cells, respectively. No significant conversion (≤3%) was observed in an immortalized nontumorigenic breast epithelial cell line (MCF10A) and a human osteosarcoma cell line (U2OS). Adenovirus vector-based prodrug conversion of the 5-FC in T47D and MCF7 in the presence of 1 mg/mL of 5-FC led to cytotoxicity that resulted in a nearly complete cell death (≥90%) after 5 days, whereas MCF10A and U2OS cells remained resistant (≤10%). Nude mice harboring T47D-derived breast tumors that were injected intratumorally (i.t.) with therapeutic adenovirus vectors at a dose of 2 x 108 plaque-forming units and treated systemically with 5-FC at a concentration of 500 mg/kg/day showed a marked reduction in tumor mass within 30 days when compared with animals that received vector alone. Animal survival was significantly prolonged after 72 days in mice treated with therapeutic vectors in conjunction with prodrug when compared with control animals. These preclinical data are sufficiently promising to warrant further studies of this transcriptional targeting approach to breast cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)845-852
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Gene Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Breast cancer
  • Cytosine deaminase
  • Gene therapy
  • Tissue-specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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