Abbas, Basma; Centre for Biotechnology
      Adenoviruses are the most commonly used in the development of oncolytic therapy. Oncolytic adenoviruses are genetically modified to selectivity replicate in and kill tumor cells. The p53 molecule is a tumor suppressor protein that responds to viral infection through the activation of apoptosis, which is inhibited by adenovirus E1B55kDa protein leading to progressive viral lytic cycle. The non-specificity of replication has limited the use of wild type adenovirus in cancer therapy. This issue was resolved by using an E1b deleted Ad that can only replicate in cells with a deficiency in the p53 protein, a common feature of most cancer cells. Although demonstrating a moderate success rate, E1b55kDa deleted Ad has not been approved as a standard therapy for all cancer types. Several studies have revealed that E1b deleted Ad replication was independent of p53 status in the cell, as the virus replicated better in some p53 deficient cancers more than others. However, this mechanism has not been investigated deeply. Therefore, the objective of this study is to understand the relationship between p53 status, levels and functional activity, and oncolytic Ad5dlE1b55kDa replication efficiency. Firstly, five transient p53 expression vectors that contain different regulatory elements were engineered and then evaluated in H1299, HEK293 and HeLa cell lines. Data indicated that vector that contains the MARs and HPRE regulatory elements achieved the highest stability of p53 expression. Secondly, we used these vectors to examine the effect of various p53 expression levels on the replication efficiency of oncolytic Ad5dlE1b55kDa. We found that the level of p53 in the cell had an insignificant effect on the oncolytic viruses’ replication. However, the functional activity of p53 had a significant effect on its replication, as Ad5dlE1b55kDa was shown to have selective activity in H1299 cells (p53-null). In contrast, a decrease in viral replication was found in HeLa cells (p53-positive). Finally, the effect of p53’s functional activity on the replication efficiency of oncolytic Ad5dlE1b55kDa was examined. Viral growth was evaluated in H1299 cells expressing number of p53 mutants. P53-R175H mutant successfully rescued viral growth by allowing the virus to exert its mechanism of selectivity. The mechanism entailed deregulating the expression of specific genes, cell cycle and apoptosis, in the p53 pathway to promote its production leading to efficient oncolytic effect. These results confirmed that oncolytic Ad5dlE1b55kDa sensitivity is mutation-type specific. Therefore, before it is applied clinically as cancer therapy for p53 deficient tumors, the type of p53 mutation must be determined for efficient antitumor effect.