Uncovering the Anticancer Potential of Murine Cytomegalovirus against Human Colon Cancer Cells

Molecular therapy oncolytics, Mar 2020

Massara, L., Khairallah, C., Yared, N., Pitard, V., Rousseau, B., Izotte, J., Giese, A., Dubus, P., Gauthereau, X., Déchanet-Merville, J., & Capone, M.



Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) components are often found in tumors, but the precise relationship between HCMV and cancer remains a matter of debate. Pro-tumor functions of HCMV were described in several studies, but an association between HCMV seropositivity and reduced cancer risk was also evidenced, presumably relying on recognition and killing of cancer cells by HCMV-induced lymphocytes. This study aimed at deciphering whether CMV influences cancer development in an immune-independent manner. Using immunodeficient mice, we showed that systemic infection with murine CMV (MCMV) inhibited the growth of murine carcinomas. Surprisingly, MCMV, but not HCMV, also reduced human colon carcinoma development in vivoIn vitro, both viruses infected human cancer cells. Expression of human interferon-β (IFN-β) and nuclear domain (ND10) were induced in MCMV-infected, but not in HCMV-infected human colon cancer cells. These results suggest a decreased capacity of MCMV to counteract intrinsic defenses in the human cellular host. Finally, immunodeficient mice receiving peri-tumoral MCMV therapy showed a reduction of human colon cancer cell growth, albeit no clinical sign of systemic virus dissemination was evidenced. Our study, which describes a selective advantage of MCMV over HCMV to control human colon cancer, could pave the way for the development of CMV-based therapies against cancer.