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Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-II plays an important role in fetal growth and development. IGFs are potent mitogens for a variety of cancer cells. A paracrine/autocrine role of IGF-II in the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells has been suggested. To test the role of IGF-II in cancer cell growth, hammerhead ribozymes targeted to human IGF-II RNA were constructed. Single (R)- and double (RR)-ribozymes were catalytically active in vitro whereas mutant ribozymes (M or MM) did not cleave IGF-II RNA. RR was more active than R. In human prostate cancer PC-3 cells, both R and RR similarly suppressed IGF-II messenger RNA (mRNA) levels (∼40%) compared with the level in parental or M-expressing PC-3 cells. Polymerase II and III promoter-driven R similarly suppressed IGF-II mRNA levels. Suppression of IGF-II mRNA levels by R was associated with suppression of IGF-II protein levels. R- (or RR-) expressing PC-3 cells did not grow under serum-starved conditions and showed prolonged doubling times in the presence of 10% FCS compared with those of parental or M-expressing cells. These results substantiated that IGF-II plays a critical role in prostate cancer cell growth.