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Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Jan 15;18(2):408-16. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-0946. Epub 2011 Oct 28.

Histone deacetylase inhibitors induce growth arrest and differentiation in uveal melanoma.

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  • 1Departments of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Otolaryngology, and Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.



Metastasis is responsible for the death of most cancer patients, yet few therapeutic agents are available which specifically target the molecular events that lead to metastasis. We recently showed that inactivating mutations in the tumor suppressor gene BAP1 are closely associated with loss of melanocytic differentiation in uveal melanoma (UM) and metastasis. The purpose of this study was to identify therapeutic agents that reverse the phenotypic effects of BAP1 loss in UM.


In silico screens were done to identify therapeutic compounds predicted to differentiate UM cells using Gene Set Enrichment Analysis and Connectivity Map databases. Valproic acid (VPA), trichostatin A, LBH-589, and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid were evaluated for their effects on UM cells using morphologic evaluation, MTS viability assays, bromodeoxyuridine incorporation, flow cytometry, clonogenic assays, gene expression profiling, histone acetylation and ubiquitination assays, and a murine xenograft tumorigenicity model.


Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors induced morphologic differentiation, cell-cycle exit, and a shift to a differentiated, melanocytic gene expression profile in cultured UM cells. VPA inhibited the growth of UM tumors in vivo.


These findings suggest that HDAC inhibitors may have therapeutic potential for inducing differentiation and prolonged dormancy of micrometastatic disease in UM.

©2011 AACR.

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