Newcastle disease virus exerts oncolysis by both intrinsic and extrinsic caspase-dependent pathways of cell death

Subbiah Elankumaran, Daniel Rockemann, Siba K Samal
Journal of Virology 2006, 80 (15): 7522-34
Newcastle disease virus (NDV), an avian paramyxovirus, is tumor selective and intrinsically oncolytic. Here, we present evidence that genetically modified, recombinant NDV strains are cytotoxic to human tumor cell lines of ecto-, endo-, and mesodermal origin. We show that cytotoxicity against tumor cells is due to multiple caspase-dependent pathways of apoptosis independent of interferon signaling competence. The signaling pathways of NDV-induced, cancer cell-selective apoptosis are not well understood. We demonstrate that NDV triggers apoptosis by activating the mitochondrial/intrinsic pathway and that it acts independently of the death receptor/extrinsic pathway. Caspase-8-methylated SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells are as sensitive to NDV as other caspase-8-competent cells. This demonstrates that NDV is likely to act primarily through the mitochondrial death pathway. NDV infection results in the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and the subsequent release of the mitochondrial protein cytochrome c, but the second mitochondrion-derived activator of caspase (Smac/DIABLO) is not released. In addition, we describe early activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3. In contrast, cleavage of caspase-8, which is predominantly activated by the death receptor pathway, is a TNF-related, apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-induced late event in NDV-mediated apoptosis of tumor cells. Our data, therefore, indicate that the death signal(s) generated by NDV in tumor cells ultimately converges at the mitochondria and that it acts independently of the death receptor pathway. Our cytotoxicity studies demonstrate that recombinant NDV could be developed as a cancer virotherapy agent, either alone or in combination with therapeutic transgenes. We have also shown that trackable oncolytic NDV could be developed without any reduction in oncolytic efficacy.

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