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Vaccinia virus (VV) is an enveloped DNA virus from the poxvirus family and has played a crucial role in the eradication of smallpox. It continues to be used in immunotherapy for the prevention of infectious diseases and treatment of cancer. However, the mechanisms of poxvirus entry, the host factors that affect viral virulence, and the reasons for its natural tropism for tumor cells are incompletely understood. By studying the effect of hypoxia on VV infection, we found that vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) augments oncolytic VV cytotoxicity. VEGF derived from tumor cells acts to increase VV internalization, resulting in increased replication and cytotoxicity in an AKT-dependent manner in both tumor cells and normal respiratory epithelial cells. Overexpression of VEGF also enhances VV infection within tumor tissue in vivo after systemic delivery. These results highlight the importance of VEGF expression in VV infection and have potential implications for the design of new strategies to prevent poxvirus infection and the development of future generations of oncolytic VV in combination with conventional or biological therapies.


Crispin T Hiley, Louisa S Chard, Rathi Gangeswaran, James R Tysome, Arnaud Briat, Nicholas R Lemoine, Yaohe Wang. Vascular endothelial growth factor A promotes vaccinia virus entry into host cells via activation of the Akt pathway. Journal of virology. 2013 Mar;87(5):2781-90

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PMID: 23269798

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