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Chem Biol. 2007 Jul;14(7):813-23.

Parthenolide specifically depletes histone deacetylase 1 protein and induces cell death through ataxia telangiectasia mutated.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Histone deacetylases (HDACs), enzymes involved in chromatin remodeling, are promising targets for anticancer drug development. Several HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) are in clinical trials. One limitation of present HDACi is their nonspecificity, affecting many HDACs with similar effectiveness. We have identified a small molecule, the sesquiterpene lactone parthenolide (PN), which specifically depletes HDAC1 protein without affecting other class I/II HDACs. HDAC1 depletion occurred through proteasomal degradation and resulted in transcriptional consequences comparable to those observed with pan-HDACi. Surprisingly, HDAC1 depletion did not occur through the inflammation mediator IKK2, a known PN target and regulator of HDAC1. Rather, PN promoted HDAC1 depletion and cell death through the DNA-damage-transducer ataxia telangiectasia mutated. Our study suggests that modulating cellular HDAC protein levels with small molecules provides an alternative approach to specific HDAC inhibition and effective cancer treatment.

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