Enhancement of antitumor activity of mitomycin C in vitro and in vivo by UCN-01, a selective inhibitor of protein kinase C

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 1993;32(3):183-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00685833.


UCN-01 (7-hydroxy-staurosporine) is a potent and selective inhibitor of protein kinase C (PKC), one of several protein kinases examined. UCN-01 itself was shown to exhibit antitumor activity in vitro and in vivo in oncogene-activated human and murine tumor cell lines. Since the mechanism(s) of action of UCN-01 is thought to be different from those of alkylating agents, including mitomycin C (MMC), we tested the combined effect of UCN-01 with MMC on human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells. UCN-01 potentiated the antiproliferative activity of MMC and yet it did not affect the growth of the cells in vitro. However, other nonselective protein kinase inhibitors, such as staurosporine, K-252a, KT6124 (a derivative of K-252a) and H7, did not enhance the activity of MMC. Isobologram analysis revealed that the interaction of UCN-01 with MMC was synergistic in its antiproliferative activity. A DNA histogram of A431 cells treated with both UCN-01 and MMC showed a block in the cell cycle at the G1/S phase. However, a histogram of cells treated with UCN-01 or MMC alone showed a G1 or a G2M block, respectively. The combined effect of UCN-01 with MMC was further examined in vivo in xenografted A431 cells in nude mice. The combination of both drugs in a single i.v. injection exhibited greater antitumor activity than MMC and UCN-01 alone (P < 0.01). This synergistic antitumor effect was also confirmed in two other solid tumor cell lines, i.e. human xenografted colon carcinoma Co-3 and murine sarcoma 180. The same was observed in the i.v.-inoculated P388 leukemia model, in which we saw an increased lifespan of mice when UCN-01 was combined with MMC. These results suggests the feasibility of using UCN-01 in clinical oncology, especially in combination with alkylating agents such as MMC. In addition, this combination therapy might be a novel chemotherapeutic approach to MMC-insensitive tumors in clinical trials.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Drug Synergism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mitomycin / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Protein Kinase C / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Staurosporine / analogs & derivatives
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Alkaloids
  • Mitomycin
  • 7-hydroxystaurosporine
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Staurosporine