Human malignant mesothelioma of the pleura: New perspectives for diagnosis and therapy

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The ability to immortalize human mesothelioma cells in vitro with simian virus (SV)40 and the fact that SV40 induces mesotheliomas in hamsters prompted us to look for SV40 deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequences in human mesotheliomas. In a previous study, we found that over half (29/48) of human malignant pleural mesotheliomas contained SV40-like sequences whereas only a few (3/47) control samples contained the same detectable sequences. The SV40 genome encodes the 90 KD nuclear large T-antigen (Tag) and the 17 KD small-t antigen (tag), responsible for SV40's transforming and oncogenic properties. These antigens block tumour suppressor gene products, such as p53. We considered the possibility of reverting this effect by adding exogenous wild-type p53 and thus restoring normal cell functions. For this purpose, we developed a recombinant adenovirus carrying complementary DNA (cDNA) for wild type p53 (AdCMV.p53) and infected mesothelioma cell lines with this virus. Inhibition of proliferation, halting of the cell cycle and massive apoptosis was observed in all mesothelioma cell lines tested. In addition, proliferation of human mesothelioma tumours into nude mice was inhibited by in vivo adenovirus-mediated p53 transgene expression. We also report preliminary evidence of expression, by immunoreactivity, of the extracellular matrix protein tenascin in human malignant pleural mesotheliomas. It was interesting to find predominant tenascin positivity at the tumour's invasive edge and in areas of tumour vascularization. This preliminary report suggests that adenovirus-mediated p53 hyperexpression counteracts transforming properties of the large T-antigen and suggests that gene therapy may be useful in treating human malignant mesothelioma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-243
Number of pages3
JournalMonaldi Archives for Chest Disease - Cardiac Series
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Gene therapy
  • Large T-antigen
  • Mesothelioma
  • Neoangiogenes
  • p53
  • Simian virus 40
  • Tenascin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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