Farnesyltransferase inhibitors target multiple endothelial cell functions in angiogenesis

Angiogenesis. 2008;11(4):337-46. doi: 10.1007/s10456-008-9115-3. Epub 2008 Aug 30.


Farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs) are novel anticancer drugs that inhibit the secretion of pro-angiogenic factors by Ras-transformed cancer cells. FTIs also inhibit angiogenesis in a rat corneal model, suggesting that FTIs have anti-angiogenic properties that extend beyond targeting cancer cells. Our hypothesis was that FTIs may directly target endothelial cell functions in angiogenesis. We examined the effects of FTI treatment on a range of assays designed to pick apart the individual functions of endothelial cells during angiogenesis. We found that FTIs inhibit endothelial cell proliferation, causing a failure of mitosis and accumulation of binucleate cells. FTIs also block the directional migration of endothelial cells toward VEGF, the major pro-angiogenic factor in adult tissues. In a co-culture assay of angiogenesis, FTI treatment significantly inhibits tube formation, but has no effect on pre-existing structures. Defects in tube formation could be replicated by specific targeting of endothelial cell farnesyltransferase using RNA interference. Our data show that FTIs directly target endothelial cells in angiogenesis, explaining previous in vivo findings. Importantly, these results suggest that the therapeutic use of FTIs may extend beyond cancer to include the treatment of other diseases involving pathological angiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / drug effects
  • Biological Assay
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemotaxis / drug effects
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Endothelial Cells / enzymology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Farnesyltranstransferase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / pharmacology


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Farnesyltranstransferase