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Cancer Res. 2006 Jul 1;66(13):6785-92.

Inhibition of histone deacetylase class I but not class II is critical for the sensitization of leukemic cells to tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand-induced apoptosis.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, University of Leicester, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 9HN, United Kingdom.


From work done largely on derived cell lines, it has been suggested that tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) might be a therapeutic target for many forms of malignancy. However, use of primary tumor cells, including chronic lymphocytic leukemic (CLL) cells, has shown inherent resistance to TRAIL. Although the molecular basis for this resistance remains unknown, treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) often sensitizes resistant cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. We used structurally diverse HDACi to ascertain which HDAC needs to be inhibited for the sensitization. Inhibition of HDAC class I but not class II is required for sensitization to TRAIL-induced apoptosis of CLL cells and various cell lines. Using different HDACi together with small interfering RNA for HDAC1, HDAC2, HDAC3, and HDAC6, we report that inhibition of HDAC1 and HDAC2 but not HDAC3, HDAC6, and HDAC8 are primarily responsible for sensitization to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Based on these data and our previous studies, we propose that a clinical trial in CLL is warranted using a combination of a selective HDACi that inhibits HDAC1 and/or HDAC2 together with a form of TRAIL that signals through TRAIL receptor 1.

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