Development of ribozymes that target stathmin, a major regulator of the mitotic spindle

S. J. Mistry, C. J. Benham, G. F. Atweh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Stathmin is a major cytosolic phosphoprotein that plays an important role in the control of cellular proliferation by regulating the dynamics of the microtubules that make up the mitotic spindle. Because stathmin is expressed at high levels in all human cancers, it is an attractive molecular target for anticancer interventions. We had shown previously that antisense stathmin inhibition results in marked abrogation of the transformed phenotype of leukemic cells in vitro and in vivo. Unlike the antisense approach, ribozymes can catalytically cleave several molecules of target RNA. This may provide a more efficient strategy for downregulating genes, such as stathmin, that are expressed at very high levels in cancer cells. We designed several antistathmin hammerhead ribozymes and tested their cleavage activity against short synthetic stathmin RNA substrates. In vitro cleavage studies demonstrated site-specific cleavage of stathmin RNA that was dependent on ribozyme concentration and duration of exposure to ribozyme. The most active antistathmin ribozyme was capable of cleaving >90% stathmin RNA in a catalytic manner, cleaving multiple substrate molecules per ribozyme molecule. We also demonstrated that the designed antistathmin ribozymes are capable of selectively cleaving native stathmin RNA in a mixture of total RNA isolated from leukemic cells. These antistathmin ribozymes may provide a novel and effective form of gene therapy that may be applicable to a wide variety of human cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalAntisense and Nucleic Acid Drug Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


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