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Br J Cancer. 2018 May;118(10):1359-1368. doi: 10.1038/s41416-018-0072-3. Epub 2018 Apr 26.

Suppression of TGFβ-mediated conversion of endothelial cells and fibroblasts into cancer associated (myo)fibroblasts via HDAC inhibition.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA.
2
National Cancer Institute, Tumor Angiogenesis Unit, Center for Cancer Research, Frederick, MD, 21702, USA.
3
Children's Cancer Institute, Kensington, NSW 2750, Australia.
4
Department of Surgery, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA.
5
Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA.
6
Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA.
7
Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA.
8
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA. acd2g@virginia.edu.
9
Emily Couric Cancer Center, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA. acd2g@virginia.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) support tumour progression and invasion, and they secrete abundant extracellular matrix (ECM) that may shield tumour cells from immune checkpoint or kinase inhibitors. Targeting CAFs using drugs that revert their differentiation, or inhibit their tumour-supportive functions, has been considered as an anti-cancer strategy.

METHODS:

We have used human and murine cell culture models, atomic force microscopy (AFM), microarray analyses, CAF/tumour cell spheroid co-cultures and transgenic fibroblast reporter mice to study how targeting HDACs using small molecule inhibitors or siRNAs re-directs CAF differentiation and function in vitro and in vivo.

RESULTS:

From a small molecule screen, we identified Scriptaid, a selective inhibitor of HDACs 1/3/8, as a repressor of TGFβ-mediated CAF differentiation. Scriptaid inhibits ECM secretion, reduces cellular contraction and stiffness, and impairs collective cell invasion in CAF/tumour cell spheroid co-cultures. Scriptaid also reduces CAF abundance and delays tumour growth in vivo.

CONCLUSIONS:

Scriptaid is a well-tolerated and effective HDACi that reverses many of the functional and phenotypic properties of CAFs. Impeding or reversing CAF activation/function by altering the cellular epigenetic regulatory machinery could control tumour growth and invasion, and be beneficial in combination with additional therapies that target cancer cells or immune cells directly.

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