Angiogenesis is required for tumor formation and growth; inhibition of angiogenesis is a promising new approach in cancer therapy. UCN-01, a protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor, induces growth arrest and apoptosis in cancer cells and was recently introduced in a phase I clinical trial. We demonstrate that UCN-01, at concentrations lower than those necessary to inhibit cancer cell growth, inhibit proliferation of human endothelial cells in vitro. Moreover, UCN-01, at concentrations as low as 32 nM, prevent microvessel outgrowth from explant cultures of rat aortic rings. Since hypoxia activates hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1)-dependent transcription in cancer cells that, in a paracrine fashion, drive tumor angiogenesis, we investigated the effects of UCN-01 on HIF-1-responsive promoter constructs. We report that, in addition to direct inhibitory effects on endothelial cell growth, UCN-01 abrogates hypoxia-mediated transactivation of HIF-1-responsive promoters in a prostate cancer cell line. We conclude that UCN-01, at clinically relevant concentrations, exerts an anti-neovascularization effect by blocking two important steps in vessel formation: (1) the response of cancer cells to hypoxia, and (2) endothelial cell proliferation.

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