VSV-FH is a hybrid vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) with a deletion of its G glycoprotein and encoding the measles virus (MV) fusion (F) and hemagglutinin (H) envelope glycoproteins. VSV-FH infects cells expressing MV receptors and is fusogenic and effective against myeloma xenografts in mice. We evaluated the fusogenic activities of MV and VSV-FH in relationship to the density of receptor on the target cell surface and the kinetics of F and H expression in infected cells. Using a panel of cells expressing increasing numbers of the MV receptor CD46, we evaluated syncytium size in MV- or VSV-FH-infected cells. VSV-FH is not fusogenic at low CD46 density but requires less CD46 for syncytium formation than MV. The size of each syncytium is larger in VSV-FH-infected cells at a specific CD46 density. While syncytium size reached a plateau and did not increase further in MVinfected CHO cells expressing ≥ 4,620 CD46 copies/cell, there was a corresponding increase in syncytium size with increases in CD46 levels in VSV-FH-infected CD46-expressing CHO (CHO-CD46) cells. Further analysis in VSV-FH-infected cell lines shows earlier and higher expression of F and H mRNAs and protein. However, VSV-FH cytotoxic activity was reduced by pretreatment of the cells with type I interferon. In contrast, the cytopathic effects are not affected in MV-infected cells. In summary, VSV-FH has significant advantages over MV as an oncolytic virus due to its higher viral yield, faster replication kinetics, and larger fusogenic capabilities but should be used in cancer types with defective interferon signaling pathways.
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