Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Cancer Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Khandan Keyomarsi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marvin Meistrich, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Plunkett, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mary Ann Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn Van Pelt, D.V.M., Ph.D.


Chemotherapy is a common and effective method to treat many forms of cancer. However, treatment of cancer with chemotherapy has severe side effects which often limit the doses of therapy administered. Because some cancer chemotherapeutics target proliferating cells and tissues, all dividing cells, whether normal or tumor, are affected. Cell culture studies have demonstrated that UCN-01 is able to reversibly and selectively arrest normal dividing cells; tumor cells lines do not undergo this temporary arrest. Following UCN-01 treatment, normal cells displayed a 50-fold increase in IC50 for camptothecin; tumor cells showed no such increased tolerance.

We have examined the response of the proliferating tissues of the mouse to UCN- 01 treatment, using the small bowel epithelium as a model system. Our results indicate that UCN-01 treatment can cause a cell cycle arrest in the gut epithelium, beginning 24 hours following UCN-01 administration, with cell proliferation remaining suppressed for one week. Two weeks post-UCN-01 treatment the rate of proliferation returns to normal levels. 5-FU administered during this period demonstrates that UCN-01 is able to provide protection to normal cells of the mouse within a narrow window of efficacy, from three to five days post-UCN-01. UCN-01 pretreated mice displayed improved survival, weight status and blood markers following 5-FU compared to control mice, indicating that UCN-01 can protect normal dividing tissues.

The mechanism by which UCN-01 arrests normal cells in vivo was also examined. We have demonstrated that UCN-01 treatment in mice causes an increase in the G1 phase cell cycle proteins cdk4 and cyclin D, as well as the inhibitor p27. Phosphorylated Rb was also elevated in the arrested cells. These results are a departure from cell culture studies, in which inhibition of G1 phase cyclin dependent kinases led to hyposphosphorylation of Rb. Future investigation will be required to understand the mechanism of UCN-01 action. This is important information, especially for identification of alternate compounds which could provide the protection afforded by UCN-01.


UCN-01, chemotherapy, protection, cytostatic



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