Transient exposure of mammary tumors to PD184352 and UCN-01 causes tumor cell death in vivo and prolonged suppression of tumor regrowth

Cancer Biol Ther. 2005 Nov;4(11):1275-84. doi: 10.4161/cbt.4.11.2286. Epub 2005 Dec 1.


Previous studies from our group have demonstrated in vitro that UCN-01 (7-hydroxystaurosporine) and inhibitors of MEK1/2 interact to cause tumor cell death in a wide variety of malignant, but not in nontransformed, cell types. The present studies determined whether UCN-01 and MEK1/2 inhibitors interacted to cause tumor cell death in vivo. In vitro colony formation studies demonstrated that UCN-01 and the MEK1/2 inhibitor PD184352 interacted to synergistically kill human mammary carcinoma cells (MDA-MB-231, MCF7) with similar combination index values. Athymic mice were implanted in the rear flank with either MDA-MB-231 or MCF7 cells and tumors permitted to form to a volume of approximately 100 mm3 prior to a two day exposure of either Vehicle, PD184352 (25 mg/kg), UCN-01 (0.1-0.2 mg/kg) or the drug combination. Tumor volume was measured every other day and tumor growth determined over the following approximately 30 days. Transient exposure of MDA-MB-231 tumors or MCF7 tumors to either PD184352 or UCN-01 did not significantly alter tumor growth rate or the mean tumor volume in vivo approximately 15-30 days after drug administration. In contrast, combined treatment with PD184352 and UCN-01 significantly reduced MDA-MB-231, and largely abolished MCF7 tumor growth. Tumor control values for both cell lines were 0.36. Tumor cells isolated approximately 30 days after combined drug exposure exhibited a significantly greater reduction in plating efficiency using ex vivo colony formation assays than tumor cells that were exposed to either drug individually. Reduced tumor growth correlated with profound tumor cell death within five days of combined drug exposure, which was also evident approximately 30 days after exposure. In addition, tumor cell death correlated with a reduction in the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and the immuno-reactivity of Ki67 and of CD31. Collectively, these findings argue that UCN-01 and MEK1/2 inhibitors have the potential to suppress mammary tumor growth in vivo which is independent of p53 status, estrogen dependency, caspase 3 levels or oncogenic K-RAS expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Benzamides / pharmacology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Synergism
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Staurosporine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Staurosporine / pharmacology


  • 2-(2-chloro-4-iodophenylamino)-N-cyclopropylmethoxy-3,4-difluorobenzamide
  • Benzamides
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • 7-hydroxystaurosporine
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Staurosporine