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J Biol Chem. 2002 Jan 18;277(3):2073-80. Epub 2001 Nov 6.

Apicidin, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, induces apoptosis and Fas/Fas ligand expression in human acute promyelocytic leukemia cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Pharmacy and Department of Genetic Engineering, College of Life Science and Natural Resources, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 440-746, Korea.


We previously reported that apicidin arrested human cancer cell growth through selective induction of p21(WAF1/Cip1). In this study, the apoptotic potential of apicidin and its mechanism in HL60 cells was investigated. Treatment of HL60 cells with apicidin caused a decrease in viable cell number in a dose-dependent manner and an increase in DNA fragmentation, nuclear morphological change, and apoptotic body formation, concomitant with progressive accumulation of hyperacetylated histone H4. In addition, apicidin converted the procaspase-3 form to catalytically active effector protease, resulting in subsequent cleavages of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and p21(WAF1/Cip1). Incubation of HL60 cells with z-DEVD-fmk, a caspase-3 inhibitor, almost completely abrogated apicidin-induced activation of caspase-3, DNA fragmentation, and cleavages of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and p21(WAF1/Cip1). Moreover, these effects were preceded by an increase in translocation of Bax into the mitochondria, resulting in the release of cytochrome c and cleavage of procaspase-9. The addition of cycloheximide greatly inhibited activation of caspase-3 by apicidin by interfering with cleavage of procaspase-3 and DNA fragmentation, suggesting that apicidin-induced apoptosis was dependent on de novo protein synthesis. Consistent with these results, apicidin transiently increased the expressions of both Fas and Fas ligand. Preincubation with NOK-1 monoclonal antibody, which prevents the Fas-Fas ligand interaction and is inhibitory to Fas signaling, interfered with apicidin-induced translocation of Bax, cytochrome c release, cleavage of procaspase-3, and DNA fragmentation. Taken together, the results suggest that apicidin might induce apoptosis through selective induction of Fas/Fas ligand, resulting in the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria to the cytosol and subsequent activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3.

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