Caspase-8 gene therapy using the human telomerase reverse transcriptase promoter for malignant glioma cells

Tadashi Komata, Yasuko Kondo, Takao Kanzawa, Hideaki Ito, Satoshi Hirohata, Shoji Koga, Hideaki Sumiyoshi, Masahiro Takakura, Masaki Inoue, Barbara P. Barna, Isabelle M. Germano, Satoru Kyo, Seiji Kondo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Telomerase is a distinctive candidate for targeted gene therapy of malignant gliomas, because the vast majority of malignant gliomas express telomerase activity while normal brain tissues do not. Recently, we developed a telomerase-specific expression system of caspase-8 gene using the promoter of the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene. However, the transcriptional activity of hTERT-181 promoter (a 181-base pair [bp] region upstream of the transcription start site) was relatively lower in malignant glioma cells than in other tumors such as prostate cancer cells. To establish the hTERT/caspase-8 construct as a novel therapy for malignant gliomas, we need to increase the transcriptional activity of the hTERT promoter in malignant glioma cells. In the present study, we demonstrate that the transcriptional activity of hTERT-378 promoter (a 378-bp region) was 2- to 40-fold higher in hTERT-positive malignant glioma cells (A172, GB-1, T98G, U87-MG, U251-MG, and U373-MG) than that of hTERT-181. We further demonstrate that by using the hTERT-378/caspase-8 construct, apoptosis was restricted to malignant glioma cells, and was not seen in astrocytes or fibroblasts lacking hTERT. Moreover, the growth of subcutaneously established U373-MG tumors in mice was significantly inhibited by seven daily intratumoral injections of hTERT-378/caspase-8 construct and its inhibitory effect persisted during 3 additional weeks without additional treatment. These results suggest that the telomerase-specific expression of caspase-8 under hTERT-378 promoter is a novel targeting approach for the treatment of telomerase-positive malignant gliomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1025
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Gene Therapy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Caspase-8 gene therapy using the human telomerase reverse transcriptase promoter for malignant glioma cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this