Open Access Research article

ARC (NSC 188491) has identical activity to Sangivamycin (NSC 65346) including inhibition of both P-TEFb and PKC

Luke H Stockwin1, Sherry X Yu1, Howard Stotler1, Melinda G Hollingshead2 and Dianne L Newton1*

Author Affiliations

1 Developmental Therapeutics Program, SAIC-Frederick Inc., NCI- Frederick, Frederick, MD 21702, USA

2 Developmental Therapeutics Program, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, NCI- Frederick, Frederick, Maryland 21702, USA

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:63  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-63

Published: 20 February 2009



The nucleoside analog, ARC (NSC 188491) is a recently characterized transcriptional inhibitor that selectively kills cancer cells and has the ability to perturb angiogenesis in vitro. In this study, the mechanism of action of ARC was further investigated by comparing in vitro and in vivo activity with other anti-neoplastic purines.


Structure-based homology searches were used to identify those compounds with similarity to ARC. Comparator compounds were then evaluated alongside ARC in the context of viability, cell cycle and apoptosis assays to establish any similarities. Following this, biological overlap was explored in detail using gene-expression analysis and kinase inhibition assays.


Results demonstrated that sangivamycin, an extensively characterized pro-apoptotic nucleoside isolated from Streptomyces, had identical activity to ARC in terms of 1) cytotoxicity assays, 2) ability to induce a G2/M block, 3) inhibitory effects on RNA/DNA/protein synthesis, 4) transcriptomic response to treatment, 5) inhibition of protein kinase C, 6) inhibition of positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb), 7) inhibition of VEGF secretion, and 8) activity within hollow fiber assays. Extending ARC activity to PKC inhibition provides a molecular basis for ARC cancer selectivity and anti-angiogenic effects. Furthermore, functional overlap between ARC and sangivamycin suggests that development of ARC may benefit from a retrospective of previous sangivamycin clinical trials. However, ARC was found to be inactive in several xenograft models, likely a consequence of rapid serum clearance.


Overall, these data expand on the biological properties of ARC but suggest additional studies are required before it can be considered a clinical trials candidate.