Epithelial-mesenchymal transition enhances response to oncolytic herpesviral therapy through nectin-1
Cell Adhesion Molecules
Herpesvirus 1, Human
Cancers exhibiting epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) are associated with aggressive behavior and increased metastatic potential. Therapies that are able to target EMT would have significant clinical value. Nectin-1 is a cell surface herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) receptor that also forms a component of intercellular adherens junctions, which are typically disrupted in EMT. To explore relationships between HSV-1 sensitivity and EMT, we generated cell lines with a stable EMT phenotype from human follicular thyroid cancer (WRO82-1) through E-cadherin silencing with short hairpin RNA (shEcadWRO). HSV-1 viral attachment and gene expression were both enhanced in shEcadWRO as compared with shControl. Immunoblotting and immunostaining revealed enhanced nectin-1 expression by shEcadWRO. Receptor-blocking assays demonstrated that increased herpesviral entry into shEcadWRO as compared with shControl was mediated predominantly through nectin-1. Colocalization of green fluorescent protein-tagged HSV-1 and tdTomato-tagged nectin-1 confirmed an increase in viral attachment to nectin-1 in shEcadWRO. Cell viability assays demonstrated increased susceptibility of shEcadWRO to HSV-1 oncolysis, and a murine flank tumor model showed significantly enhanced regression of shEcadWRO tumors in response to oncolytic HSV-1 as compared with control tumors. A separate model of EMT induction through transforming growth factor-β stimulation confirmed enhanced HSV-1 susceptibility in Panc1 cells. These results demonstrate that the process of EMT leads to increased herpesviral susceptibility through enhanced cell surface nectin-1 expression, suggesting that cancers exhibiting EMT may be naturally sensitive targets for herpesviral therapy.