Clinical experience with suicide gene therapy for prostate cancer using first-generation approaches has provided a basis for developing improved strategies. Given the low proliferation rate exhibited by prostate cancer, one improvement would be to develop suicide genes that effectively kill both dividing and nondividing cells. A second improvement would be to restrict cytotoxicity to prostate cancer cells, limiting injury of nondiseased tissue. Here we describe a novel approach to achieving both goals based on: (a) the use of a small, but potent, prostate-specific composite promoter, ARR(2)PB, based on the rat probasin gene; and (b) the use of a powerful artificial death switch, called inducible caspase-9 (iCaspase-9). ARR(2)PB includes two copies of the androgen response region (ARR), each containing two androgen receptor (AR)-binding sites, placed upstream of the probasin promoter elements necessary for basal transcription. Because iCaspase-9 contains two binding sites for the dimeric ligand, AP20187, administration of chemical inducers of dimerization leads to aggregation and caspase activation, followed by rapid apoptosis in both dividing and nondividing cells. Using both reagents, we constructed two novel adenoviruses (ADVs), ADV.ARR(2)PB-iCasp9 expressing iCaspase-9 and control ADV.ARR(2)PB-EGFP expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP). We demonstrate that tissue specificity is not sacrificed in an ADV backbone because the marker protein, EGFP, is expressed in R1881-stimulated ADV.ARR(2)PB-EGFP-transduced LNCaP cells but not in AR(-) PC-3, 293, HuH-7, U-87, and MCF-7 cells. Similarly, Pro-iCaspase-9 is expressed in ADV.ARR(2)PB-iCasp9-infected LNCaP cells after R1881 administration and is activated after AP20187 administration. In vitro experiments revealed rapid and efficient iCaspase-9-induced apoptosis of LNCaP cells in both an R1881- and AP20187-dependent manner. Only 28, 8, and 0.5% survival of LNCaP cells was seen at multiplicities of infection of 2, 10, and 25, respectively. Furthermore, at a multiplicity of infection of 10, extraordinary sensitivity to AP20187 was seen (IC(50), approximately 3 pM). In vivo experiments showed that ADV.ARR(2)PB-iCasp9 induced apoptosis in LNCaP but not in HuH-7 xenograft tumors in an AP20187-dependent manner. Furthermore, a simple i.p. injection of AP20187 dramatically suppressed LNCaP tumor growth in nude mice and led to a significantly increased host survival. This study demonstrates the feasibility of using tissue-specific expression of cell cycle-independent iCaspases as a nonmutagenic alternative modality for prostate cancer suicide gene therapy.