UCN-01 (7-hydroxystaurosporine) inhibits in vivo growth of human cancer cells through selective perturbation of G1 phase checkpoint machinery

Sadanori Abe, Tetsuro Kubota, Yoshihide Otani, Toshiharu Furukawa, Masahiko Watanabe, Koichiro Kumai, Tadakazu Akiyama, Shiro Akinaga, Masaki Kitajima

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Mechanisms underlying tumor sensitivity to the antitumor agent UCN-01 (7-hydroxystaurosporine) were examined in the nude mouse model using three human tumor xenografts, two pancreatic cancers (PAN-3-JCK and CRL 1420) and a breast cancer (MX-1). UCN-01 antitumor activity was evaluated in terms of relative tumor weights in treated and untreated mice bearing the tumor xenografts. The activity of cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), levels of p21 and p27 proteins, pRb status and cell cycle were evaluated. Induction of p21 and apoptosis were also assessed immunohistochemically in CRL 1420. UCN-01 was administered intraperitoneally at a dose of either 5 or 10 mg/kg daily for 5 days followed by a further 5 injections after an interval of 2 days. UCN-01 significantly suppressed the growth of both pancreatic cancers, but was ineffective against MX-1. p21 protein expression was markedly induced in the UCN-01-sensitive pancreatic carcinoma xenografts at both doses, but p21 induction was only evident in the UCN-01-resistant MX-1 at 10 mg/kg. MX-1 exhibited CDK2 activity that was 6-fold higher than that of pancreatic cancer strains, which may explain the resistance of MX-1 to UCN-01 despite the induction of p21 at the dose of 10 mg/kg. The UCN-01-sensitive tumors exhibited G1 arrest and increased levels of apoptosis, changes not observed in resistant MX-1. In conclusion, it appears that a determining factor of in vivo UCN-01 sensitivity involves the balance of CDK2 kinase activity and p21 protein induction, resulting in augmented pRb phosphorylation, G1 cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-545
Number of pages9
JournalJapanese Journal of Cancer Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Human xenografts
  • In vivo sensitivity
  • UCN-01

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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