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Cell Death Dis. 2010 May 20;1:e44. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2010.21.

Histone deacetylase 1 and 2 differentially regulate apoptosis by opposing effects on extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology, Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.


Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are epigenetic regulators that are important for the control of various pathophysiological events. We found that HDAC inhibitors completely abolished transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1)-induced apoptosis in AML-12 and primary mouse hepatocytes. Expression of a dominant-negative mutant of HDAC1 or downregulation of HDAC1 by RNAi both suppressed TGF-β1-induced apoptosis. In addition, overexpression of HDAC1 enhanced TGF-β1-induced apoptosis, and the rescue of HDAC1 expression in HDAC1 RNAi cells restored the apoptotic response of cells to TGF-β1. These data indicate that HDAC1 functions as a proapoptotic factor in TGF-β1-induced apoptosis. In contrast, downregulation of HDAC2 by RNAi increased spontaneous apoptosis and markedly enhanced TGF-β1-induced apoptosis, suggesting that HDAC2 has a reciprocal role in controlling cell survival. Furthermore, inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) by MEK1 inhibitor PD98059 or expression of a kinase-dead mutant of MEK1 restored the apoptotic response to TGF-β1 in HDAC1 RNAi cells. Strikingly, HDAC2 RNAi caused an inhibition of ERK1/2, and the spontaneous apoptosis can be abolished by reactivation of ERK1/2. Taken together, our data demonstrate that HDAC1 and 2 reciprocally affect cell viability by differential regulation of ERK1/2; these observations provide insight into the roles and potential mechanisms of HDAC1 and 2 in apoptosis.

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