Delivery of sTRAIL variants by MSCs in combination with cytotoxic drug treatment leads to p53-independent enhanced antitumor effects

R Yu, L Deedigan, S M Albarenque, A Mohr, R M Zwacka
Cell Death & Disease 2013, 4: e503
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are able to infiltrate tumor tissues and thereby effectively deliver gene therapeutic payloads. Here, we engineered murine MSCs (mMSCs) to express a secreted form of the TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), which is a potent inducer of apoptosis in tumor cells, and tested these MSCs, termed MSC.sTRAIL, in combination with conventional chemotherapeutic drug treatment in colon cancer models. When we pretreated human colorectal cancer HCT116 cells with low doses of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and added MSC.sTRAIL, we found significantly increased apoptosis as compared with single-agent treatment. Moreover, HCT116 xenografts, which were cotreated with 5-FU and systemically delivered MSC.sTRAIL, went into remission. Noteworthy, this effect was protein 53 (p53) independent and was mediated by TRAIL-receptor 2 (TRAIL-R2) upregulation, demonstrating the applicability of this approach in p53-defective tumors. Consequently, when we generated MSCs that secreted TRAIL-R2-specific variants of soluble TRAIL (sTRAIL), we found that such engineered MSCs, labeled MSC.sTRAIL(DR5), had enhanced antitumor activity in combination with 5-FU when compared with MSC.sTRAIL. In contrast, TRAIL-resistant pancreatic carcinoma PancTu1 cells responded better to MSC.sTRAIL(DR4) when the antiapoptotic protein XIAP (X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein) was silenced concomitantly. Taken together, our results demonstrate that TRAIL-receptor selective variants can potentially enhance the therapeutic efficacy of MSC-delivered TRAIL as part of individualized and tumor-specific combination treatments.

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