Osteosarcoma is a rare disease diagnosed as malignant bone tumor. It is generally refractory to chemotherapy, which contributes to its poor prognosis. The reversal of chemoresistance is a major clinical challenge to improve the prognostic outcome of osteosarcoma patients. We developed a tumor-specific replication-competent oncolytic adenovirus, OBP-301 (telomelysin) and assessed its synergistic effects with chemotherapeutic agents (cisplatin and doxorubicin) using human osteosarcoma cell lines and a xenograft tumor model. The molecular mechanism underlying the chemosensitizing effect of OBP-301 was evaluated in aspects of apoptosis induction. OBP-301 inhibits anti-apoptotic myeloid cell leukemia 1 (MCL1) expression, which in turn leads to chemosensitization in human osteosarcoma cells. The siRNA-mediated knockdown of MCL1 expression sensitized human osteosarcoma cells to common chemotherapeutic agents. We also found that upregulation of microRNA-29 targeting MCL1 via virally induced transcriptional factor E2F-1 activation was critical for the enhancement of chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in osteosarcoma cells. Telomerase-specific oncolytic adenovirus synergistically suppressed the viability of human osteosarcoma cells in combination with chemotherapeutic agents. The combination treatment also significantly inhibited tumor growth, as compared to monotherapy, in an osteosarcoma xenograft tumor model. Our data suggest that replicative virus-mediated tumor-specific MCL1 ablation may be a promising strategy to attenuate chemoresistance in osteosarcoma patients.
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