Oncolytic viruses (OVs) offer a promising therapeutic approach to treat multiple types of cancer. In this study, we show that the manipulation of the anti-oxidant network via transcription factor Nrf2 augments vesicular stomatitis virus Δ51 (VSVΔ51) replication and sensitizes cancer cells to viral oncolysis. Activation of Nrf2 signaling by the antioxidant compound sulforaphane (SFN) leads to enhanced VSVΔ51 spread in OV-resistant cancer cells and improves the therapeutic outcome in different murine syngeneic and xenograft tumor models. Furthermore, chemoresistant A549 lung cancer cells that display a constitutive dominant hyperactivation of Nrf2 signaling are particularly vulnerable to VSVΔ51 oncolysis. Mechanistically, enhanced Nrf2 signaling stimulates viral replication in cancer cells and disrupts the type I IFN response via increased autophagy. This study reveals a previously unappreciated role for Nrf2 in the regulation of autophagy and the innate antiviral response that complements the therapeutic potential of VSV-directed oncolysis against multiple types of OV-resistant or chemoresistant cancer.
- innate antiviral response