Antisense oligonucleotides were used to demonstrate the importance of insulin-like growth factor II and α-fetoprotein for the growth of hepatoma cell lines. The level of insulin-like growth factor II was found to correlate positively with cell proliferative activity, whereas α-fetoprotein was not. We have developed an in vitro system for the screening of antisense oligonucleotides effective for inhibiting target protein production. Using this system, the effectiveness of antisense oligonucleotides can be determined even when a specific antibody or activity assay method is not available. These approaches will be useful for verifying the physiological role of other oncoproteins or proteins in living cells, and antisense oligonucleotides may be developed as new therapeutic agents.
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