The oncopathic potency of Clostridium perfringens is independent of its α-toxin gene

Zhiyu Li, John Fallon, John Mandeli, James Wetmur, Savio L.C. Woo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Hypoxia in solid tumors is a major obstacle in conventional treatment because of inefficient delivery of therapeutic agents to the lesions, but offers the potential for anaerobic bacterial colonization that can lead to tumor destruction. We have previously reported a recombinant Clostridium perfringens (Cp) strain constructed by deletion of the superoxide dismutase (sod) gene and insertion of the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) gene, Cp/sod-/PVL, which showed elevated oxygen sensitivity, tumor selectivity, and oncopathic potency in an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer in immune-competent and syngeneic mice, and that led to substantial prolongation of animal survival. A major limitation to Cp/sod-/PVL in clinical applications is that it expresses phospholipase C (plc), the α-toxin and the major virulence determinant in Cp that is causative in the development of gas gangrene. In this study, the plc gene in Cp/sod-/PVL was knocked out to create Cp/plc-/sod-/PVL, which was shown to be incapable of inducing gas gangrene in mice. Intravenous injection of Cp/plc -/sod-/PVL spores led to a significant survival advantage in tumor-bearing mice with the same efficacy as Cp/sod-/PVL, indicating that the oncopathic potency of Cp is independent of a functional plc gene. The treatment also did not lead to an attenuated immune response to a subsequent pathogen challenge, indicating that a systemic immune-suppressive effect in the host is absent. Consequently, Cp/plc-/sod -/PVL is a novel oncopathic bacterial agent for the effective treatment of pancreatic cancer and other poorly vascularized tumors, with a substantially enhanced safety profile, which is essential for the development of translational studies in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-758
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Gene Therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2009


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