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In this study, we characterize the uptake and specificity of a first-generation Raf-1 antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) (ISIS 5132) and compare it with a second-generation ASO (ISIS 13650) and an RNA interference approach. All three approaches resulted in inhibition of both Raf-1 expression and cellular growth. Specificity of the Raf-1 ASOs was confirmed by comparison with ASOs targeted against another Raf isoform (B-Raf) as well as mismatch sequences. Cellular uptake studies with FAM-labelled ISIS 5132 revealed that whilst the majority of cells treated at a low-intermediate plating density were labelled within 3 hr, cells treated at high density demonstrated neither Raf-1 protein knockout nor significant growth inhibition, following similar treatment. This lack of response at high cell densities was associated with reduced pERK and Raf-1 inhibition. Cell cycle analysis revealed that whilst SKOV-3 cells both accumulated in the S-phase of the cell cycle and showed enhanced annexin V levels, following Raf-1 ASO treatment; these effects were also demonstrated with first-generation but not second-generation mismatch oligonucleotides. Bromodeoxyuridine incorporation analysis suggested that these effects may indeed be partly attributable to sequence nonspecific effects. Finally, the combination of ISIS 5132 with either carboplatin or taxol showed enhanced growth inhibition, supporting the view that such ASOs may have a more effective clinical role when used in combination with cytotoxic agents.