Resistance to growth inhibitory and apoptotic effects of phorbol ester and UCN-01 in aggressive cancer cell lines.

M. V. Blagosklonny*, S. C. Dixon, R. Robey, W. D. Figg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


7-Hydroxystaurosporine (UCN-01), a non-selective inhibitor of protein kinase C (PKC), and phorbol ester (PMA), a PKC activator, are undergoing clinical evaluations. We investigated the effects of UCN-01 and PMA on a panel of prostate cancer cell lines. While PMA induced p21WAF1/CIP1 and arrest growth of LNCaP cancer cells (IC50 = 0.5-1 nM), aggressive cancer cell lines (DU145, PC3, and PC3M) were resistant to PMA (IC50 >5000 nM). Low concentrations (25-50 nM) of UCN-01 abrogated PMA-induced p21 and growth arrest in LNCaP cells. These low doses of UCN-01 however did not inhibit proliferation of any prostate cancer cell line. PMA-sensitive LNCaP cells were resistant to clinically relevant concentrations of UCN-01 (IC50 = 1.2 microM), but UCN-01 inhibited growth of DU145 and PC3/3M with an IC50 of 200-400 nM. For comparison, PMA-sensitive HL60 leukemia cells were sensitive to UCN-01 due to rapid apoptosis caused by UCN-01. In PMA-resistant prostate cancer cells, UCN-01 downregulated cyclin D1, induced p21, caused morphological differentiation, and G1-phase arrest leading to slow cell death without caspase activation. Importantly, normal prostate epithelial cells (PrEC) were very sensitive to both PMA (IC50 = 0.2 nM) and UCN-01. In PrEC, UCN-01 downregulated cyclin D1 and arrest growth with an IC50 less than 100 nM. We conclude that loss of sensitivity to either UCN-01 or PMA accompanies progression of prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-704
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2001
Externally publishedYes


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