Targeting ca-125 transcription by development of a conditionally replicative adenovirus for ovarian cancer treatment

Er Yue, Guangchao Yang, Yuanfei Yao, Guangyu Wang, Atish Mohanty, Fang Fan, Ling Zhao, Yanqiao Zhang, Tamara Mirzapoiazova, Tonya C. Walser, Lorna Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Yuman Fong, Ravi Salgia, Edward Wenge Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CA-125, encoded by the MUC16 gene, is highly expressed in most ovarian cancer cells and thus serves as a tumor marker for monitoring disease progression or treatment response in ovarian cancer patients. However, targeting MUC16/CA-125 for ovarian cancer treatment has not been successful to date. In the current study, we performed multiple steps of high-fidelity PCR and obtained a 5 kb DNA fragment upstream of the human MUC16 gene. Reporter assays indicate that this DNA fragment possesses transactivation activity in CA-125-high cancer cells, but not in CA-125-low cancer cells, indicating that the DNA fragment contains the transactivation region that controls specific expression of the MUC16 gene in ovarian cancer cells. We further refined the promoter and found a 1040 bp fragment with similar transcriptional activity and specificity. We used this refined MUC16 promoter to replace the E1A promoter in the adenovirus type 5 genome DNA, where E1A is an essential gene for adenovirus replication. We then generated a conditionally replicative oncolytic adenovirus (CRAd) that replicates in and lyses CA-125-high cancer cells, but not CA-125-low or-negative cancer cells. In vivo studies showed that intraperitoneal virus injection prolonged the survival of NSG mice inoculated intraperitoneally (ip) with selected ovarian cancer cell lines. Furthermore, the CRAd replicates in and lyses primary ovarian cancer cells, but not normal cells, collected from ovarian cancer patients. Collectively, these data indicate that targeting MUC16 transactivation utilizing CRAd is a feasible approach for ovarian cancer treatment that warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4265
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • CA-125
  • Conditionally replicative oncolytic adenovirus
  • MUC16
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Targeted therapy
  • Transcription
  • Tumor specific promoter


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