Background In contrast to its well-known endocrine function, the role of inhibin in cancer development and therapeutic response is unclear. Salmonella, particularly less toxic attenuated Salmonella strains, are used to treat cancer in two ways. First, Salmonella accumulate around tumors, penetrate the cell barrier, and replicate inside the tumors. Second, Salmonella can act as a vehicle for delivering anticancer agents or proapoptotic genes to attack tumors. In this study, we aimed to develop a suitable cancer therapeutic strategy by genetically modifying attenuated Salmonella typhimurium to harbor short hairpin RNA (shRNA) expression plasmids targeting alpha subunit of inhibin (sh-INHA). Methods We analyzed the expression of human INHA in normal and cancer cells and tissues. We developed genetically engineered attenuated S. typhimurium harboring sh-INHA (S. typhimurium/sh-INHA) and assessed its cancer therapeutic effects by using cell culture models and syngeneic mouse tumor models. Results INHA expression levels were markedly higher in colon cancer and melanoma cells and tissues than in their normal counterparts. Suppression of INHA expression mildly reduced cancer cell survival and induced caspase activation and downregulation of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL expressions. Although the genetically engineered S. typhimurium mildly interfered with the invasion of S. typhimurium into host colon cancer and melanoma cells, S. typhimurium/sh-INHA caused remarkable cytotoxicity in cancer compared with unmodified S. typhimurium or S. typhimurium expressing a control scrambled shRNA (S. typhimurium/sh-Cont). Salmonella typhimurium/sh-INHA-treated mice also showed a significantly inhibited growth of colon cancers and melanomas, with a survival advantage. Conclusion Our results suggest that tumor-targeted therapy using S. typhimurium/sh-INHA may provide a novel cancer treatment option.
- genetically modified attenuated Salmonella typhimurium
- inhibin alpha subunit (INHA)
- RNA interference (RNAi)
- syngeneic mouse models utilizing immunocompetent mice bearing tumors
- treatment option for cancer therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas