Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Microbiology and Immunology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Glen Barber

Second Committee Member

Ed Harhaj

Third Committee Member

Eli Gilboa

Fourth Committee Member

Jaime Merchan

Fifth Committee Member

Joeseph Rosenblatt

Sixth Committee Member

Stephen Russell


Oncolytic virotherapy is emerging as a new treatment option for cancer patients. At present, there are relatively few oncolytic virus clinical trials that are underway or have been conducted, however one virus that shows promise in pre-clinical models is Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV). VSV is a naturally occurring oncolytic rhabdovirus that has the ability to preferentially replicate in and kill malignant versus normal cells. VSV also has a low seroprevalence, minimal associated morbidity and mortality in humans, and simple non-integrating genome that can be genetically manipulated, making it an optimal oncolytic vector. Currently, many labs are using a variety of different strategies including inserting trans genes that can modulate the innate and adaptive immune response. VSV can also be retargeted by altering its surface glycoprotein (G) or be made replication incompetent by deleting the G protein. Currently, our lab has engineered a series of new recombinant VSVs, incorporating either the murine p53 (mp53), IPS-1, or TRIF transgene. mp53, IPS-1 and TRIF were incorporated into the normal VSV-XN2 genome and mp53 was also incorporated into the mutated VSV-ΔM vector generating VSV-mp53, VSV-IPS-1, VSV-TRIF and VSV-ΔM-mp53. Our data using these new viruses indicate that these viruses preferentially replicate in and kill transformed versus non-transformed cells and efficiently express the transgene. However, despite the ability for VSV-IPS-1 and VSV-TRIF to induce a robust type 1 IFN response, VSV-ΔM-mp53 was the only construct that had reduced toxicity and elicited an increased anti-tumor response against a syngeneic metastatic mammary tumor model. VSV- ΔM-mp53 treatment lead to a reduction in IL-6 and IP-10 production, an increase in tumor specific CD8+ T cells, and immunologic memory against the tumor. Collectively these studies highlight the necessity for additional VSV construct development and the generation of new clinically relevant treatment schema.


Vesicular Stomatits Virus; p53, oncolytic virus, oncolytic virotherapy