Unique aspects of mda-7/IL-24 antitumor bystander activity: Establishing a role for secretion of MDA-7/IL-24 protein by normal cells

Zhaozhong Su, Luni Emdad, Moira Sauane, Irina V. Lebedeva, Devanand Sarkar, Pankaj Gupta, C. David James, Aaron Randolph, Kirstoffer Valerie, Mark R. Walter, Paul Dent, Paul B. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7 (mda-7) was cloned using subtraction hybridization from terminally differentiated human melanoma cells. Based on structural and functional properties, mda-7 is now recognized as interleukin-24 (IL-24), a new member of the expanding IL-10 gene family. Unique properties of mda-7/IL-24 include its ability to selectively induce growth suppression, apoptosis and radiosensitization in diverse human cancer cells, without causing similar effects in normal cells. The utility of mda-7/IL-24, administered by means of a replication-incompetent adenovirus, as a gene therapy for cancer has recently received validation in patients, highlighting an important phenomenon initially observed in pancreatic tumor cells, namely a 'potent bystander apoptosis-inducing effect' in adjacent tumor cells not initially receiving this gene product. We presently investigated the contribution of mda-7/IL-24 secreted by normal cells in mediating this 'bystander effect', and document that normal cells induced to produce mda-7/IL-24 following infection with recombinant adenoviruses expressing this cytokine secrete mda-7/IL-24, which modifies the anchorage-independent growth, invasiveness, survival and sensitivity to radiation of cancer cells that contain functional IL-20/IL-22 receptors, but not in cancer cells that lack a complete set of receptors. Moreover, the combination of secreted mda-7/IL-24 and radiation engenders a 'bystander antitumor effect' not only in inherently mda-7/IL-24 or radiation-sensitive cancer cells, but also in tumor cells overexpressing the antiapoptotic proteins bcl-2 or bcl-xL and displaying resistance to either treatment alone. The present studies provide definitive evidence that secreted mda-7/IL-24 from normal cells can induce direct antitumor and radiation-enhancing effects that are dependent on the presence of canonical receptors for this cytokine on tumor cells. Moreover, we now describe a novel means of enhancing mda-7/IL-24's therapeutic potential by targeting normal cells to produce and release this cancer-specific apoptosis-inducing cytokine, a strategy that could be employed as an innovative way of using this unique gene product for treating metastatic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7552-7566
Number of pages15
Issue number51
StatePublished - Nov 17 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present study was supported in part by National Institutes of Health grants CA097318, CA088906, CA098712, CA104177, AI47300 and DK52825, the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and the Chernow Endowment. PB Fisher is the Michael and Stella Chernow Urological Cancer Research Scientist and a SWCRF Investigator. P Dent is the Universal Inc. Professor in Signal Transduction Research.


  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer gene therapy
  • Diffusion bystander assay
  • Normal-cell-secreted mda-7/IL-24
  • Radiation sensitization
  • Tumor cell invasion


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