The genes slyA, STM3120 and htrA are required for the anticancer ability of VNP20009

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VNP20009 is a very effective anti-cancer agent and can specifically target tumors and inhibit tumor growth. It was assumed that the tumor targeting ability of VNP20009 correlated to its anticancer

VNP20009 is a very effective anti-cancer agent and can specifically target tumors and inhibit tumor growth. It was assumed that the tumor targeting ability of VNP20009 correlated to its anticancer capacity. However, our observation contradicted to this assumption. Three VNP20009 mutant strains (ΔslyA, ΔSTM3120 and ΔhtrA) with reduced fitness in normal tissues and unchanged fitness in tumors partially or completely lost their anti-cancer capacities. The genes slyA, STM3120 and htrA were required for survival within macrophages and were indispensable for tumor microenvironment remodeling by VNP20009. The infiltration of immune cells occurred less in the tumors of mice infected with the mutant strains. In addition, the mRNA levels of TNF-α and IL-1β were significantly decreased in the tumors of mice treated with the mutant strains. Our results indicate that the immune responses elicited by bacteria rather than the bacterial titer in tumors play a “decisive” role in VNP20009-mediated bacterial cancer therapy, which provides a novel perspective for the underlying mechanism of bacterial cancer therapy.