TGF-α antisense gene therapy inhibits head and neck squamous cell carcinoma growth in vivo

S. Endo, Q. Zeng, N. A. Burke, Y. He, M. F. Melhem, S. F. Watkins, M. N. Lango, S. D. Drenning, L. Huang, J. Rubin Grandis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Unlike normal mucosal squamous epithelial cells, head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) overexpress TGF-α mRNA and protein which is required to sustain the proliferation of HNSCC cells in vitro. To determine whether TGF-α expression contributes to tumor growth in vivo, cationic liposome-mediated gene transfer was used to deliver an antisense expression construct targeting the human TGF-α gene into human head and neck tumor cells, grown as subcutaneous xenografts in nude mice. The TGF-α anti-sense gene was immediately detected in the cytoplasm of the tumor cells, translocated to the nucleus by 12 h and remained localized to the nucleus for up to 3 days. Direct inoculation of the TGF-α antisense (but not the corresponding sense) construct into established HNSCC tumors resulted in inhibition of tumor growth. Sustained antitumor effects were observed for up to 1 year after the treatments were discontinued. Down-modulation of TGF-α was accompanied by increased apoptosis in vivo. These experiments indicate that interference with the TGF-α/EGFR autocrine signaling pathway may be an effective therapeutic strategy for cancers which overexpress this ligand/receptor pair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1906-1914
Number of pages9
JournalGene Therapy
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Transforming growth factor alpha

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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