Enhancing the Anticancer Efficacy of Immunotherapy through Combination with Histone Modification Inhibitors.
ABSTRACT: In the nucleus of each cell, the DNA is wrapped around histone octamers, forming the so-called "nucleosomal core particles". The histones undergo various modifications that influence chromatin structure and function, including methylation, acetylation, ubiquitination, phosphorylation, and SUMOylation. These modifications, known as epigenetic modifications (defined as heritable molecular determinants of phenotype that are independent of the DNA sequence), result in alterations of gene expression and changes in cell behavior. Recent work has shown that epigenetic drugs targeting histone deacetylation or methylation modulate the immune response and overcome acquired resistance to immunotherapy. A number of combination therapies involving immunotherapy and epigenetic drugs, which target histone deacetylation or methylation, are currently under various clinical/pre-clinical investigations and have shown promising anticancer efficacy. These combination therapies may provide a new strategy for achieving sustained anticancer efficacy and overcoming resistance.
Project description:The pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is influenced by both genetic factors and epigenetic modifications; the latter is a result of exposure to various environmental factors. Epigenetic modifications affect gene expression and alter cellular functions without modifying the genomic sequences. CpG-DNA methylation, histone modifications, and miRNAs are the main epigenetic factors of gene regulation. In SLE, global and gene-specific DNA methylation changes have been demonstrated to occur in CD4+ T-cells. Moreover, histone acetylation and deacetylation inhibitors reverse the expression of multiple genes involved in SLE, indicating histone modification in SLE. Autoreactive T-cells and B-cells have been shown to alter the patterns of epigenetic changes in SLE patients. Understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of SLE is critical for the introduction of effective, target-directed and tolerated therapies. In this review, we summarize the recent findings that highlight the importance of epigenetic modifications and their mechanisms in SLE.
Project description:Epigenetics refers to the regulation of gene expression mainly by changes in DNA methylation and modifications of histone proteins without altering the actual DNA sequence. While epigenetic modifications are essential for normal cell differentiation, several driver mutations in leukemic pathogenesis have been identified in genes that affect epigenetic processes, such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation. Several therapeutic options to target epigenetic alterations in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have been successfully tested in preclinical studies and various drugs have already been approved for use in clinical practice. Among these already approved therapeutics are hypomethylating agents (azacitidine and decitabine) and isocitrate dehydrogenase inhibitors (ivosidenib, enasidenib). Other agents such as bromodomain-containing epigenetic reader proteins and histone methylation (e.g. DOT1L) inhibitors are currently in advanced clinical testing. As several epigenetic therapies have only limited efficacy when used as single agents, combination therapies that target AML pathogenesis at different levels and exploit synergistic mechanisms are also in clinical trials. Combinations of either epigenetic therapies with conventional chemotherapy, different forms of epigenetic therapies, or epigenetic therapies with immunotherapy are showing promising early results. In this review we summarize the underlying pathophysiology and rationale for epigenetically-based combination therapies, review current preclinical and clinical data and discuss the future directions of epigenetic therapy combinations in AML.
Project description:Previous studies have demonstrated that epigenetics has an important role in the regulation of gene expression in cancer. Epigenetics is the study of reversible, heritable changes in gene function, which occur independently from changes in the DNA sequence. DNA methylation and histone deacetylation are the two most important epigenetic modifications. DNA methylation was one of the first discovered epigenetic modifications and it may lead to changes in chromatin structure, DNA conformation and DNA stability, thereby controlling gene expression. Sample data on the HepG2 cell line from the Gene Expression Omnibus database under GSE5230 accession number were obtained and GEOquery and the limma package were then used to analyze the data and identify differentially expressed genes using Gene Otology. This was conducted in order to investigate the effect on gene expression of inhibiting DNA methylation and histone deacetylation, and to explore the potential role of epigenetics in the development and treatment of hepatic carcinoma. It was found that inhibition of DNA methylation and histone deacetylation affected not only substance metabolism, but also the immune activity in HepG2 cells. Furthermore, common target sites for transcription factors were identified in the differentially expressed genes. It may be concluded that the inhibition of DNA methylation and histone deacetylation contributes to the treatment of hepatic carcinoma and may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of hepatic cancer.
Project description:Aberrant epigenetic silencing plays a major role in cancer formation by inactivating tumor suppressor genes. While the endpoints of aberrant silencing are known, i.e., promoter region DNA methylation and altered histone modifications, the triggers of silencing are not known. We used the tet-off system to test the hypothesis that a transient reduction in gene expression will sensitize a promoter to undergo epigenetic silencing.The tet responsive promoter (P(TRE)) was used to drive expression of the selectable human HPRT cDNA in independent transfectants of an Hprt deficient mouse cell line. In this system, high basal HPRT expression is greatly reduced when doxycycline (Dox) is added to the culture medium. Exposure of the P(TRE)-HPRT transfectants to Dox induced HPRT deficient clones in a time dependent manner. A molecular analysis demonstrated promoter region DNA methylation, loss of histone modifications associated with expression (i.e., H3 lysine 9 and 14 acetylation and lysine 4 methylation), and acquisition of the repressive histone modification H3 lysine 9 methylation. These changes, which are consistent with aberrant epigenetic silencing, were not present in the Dox-treated cultures, with the exception of reduced H3 lysine 14 acetylation. Silenced alleles readily reactivated spontaneously or after treatment of cells with inhibitors of histone deacetylation and/or DNA methylation, but re-silencing of reactivated alleles did not require a new round of Dox exposure. Inhibition of histone deacetylation inhibited both the induction of silencing and re-silencing, whereas inhibition of DNA methylation had no such effect.This study demonstrates that a transient reduction in gene expression triggers a pathway for aberrant silencing in mammalian cells and identifies histone deacetylation as a critical early step in this process. DNA methylation, in contrast, is a secondary step in the silencing pathway under study. A model to explain these observations is offered.
Project description:Acute leukemia is the most common type of childhood and adolescence cancer, characterized by clonal proliferation of variably differentiated myeloid or lymphoid precursors. Recent insights into the molecular pathogenesis of leukemia have shown that epigenetic modifications, such as deacetylation of histones and DNA methylation, play crucial roles in leukemogenesis, by transcriptional silencing of critical genes. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are potential targets in the treatment of leukaemia, and, as a consequence, inhibitors of HDACs (HDIs) are being studied for therapeutic purposes. HDIs promote or enhance several different anticancer mechanisms, such as apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, and cellular differentiation and, therefore, are in evidence as promising treatment for children and adolescents with acute leukemia, in monotherapy or in association with other anticancer drugs. Here we review the main preclinical and clinical studies regarding the use of HDIs in treating childhood and adolescence leukemia.
Project description:This article highlights the emerging therapeutic potential of specific epigenetic modulators as promising antiepileptogenic or disease-modifying agents for curing epilepsy. Currently, there is an unmet need for antiepileptogenic agents that truly prevent the development of epilepsy in people at risk. There is strong evidence that epigenetic signaling, which exerts high fidelity regulation of gene expression, plays a crucial role in the pathophysiology of epileptogenesis and chronic epilepsy. These modifications are not hard-wired into the genome and are constantly reprogrammed by environmental influences. The potential epigenetic mechanisms, including histone modifications, DNA methylation, microRNA-based transcriptional control, and bromodomain reading activity, can drastically alter the neuronal gene expression profile by exerting their summative effects in a coordinated fashion. Such an epigenetic intervention appears more rational strategy for preventing epilepsy because it targets the primary pathway that initially triggers the numerous downstream cellular and molecular events mediating epileptogenesis. Among currently approved epigenetic drugs, the majority are anticancer drugs with well-established profiles in clinical trials and practice. Evidence from preclinical studies supports the premise that these drugs may be applied to a wide range of brain disorders. Targeting histone deacetylation by inhibiting histone deacetylase enzymes appears to be one promising epigenetic therapy since certain inhibitors have been shown to prevent epileptogenesis in animal models. However, developing neuronal specific epigenetic modulators requires rational, pathophysiology-based optimization to efficiently intercept the upstream pathways in epileptogenesis. Overall, epigenetic agents have been well positioned as new frontier tools towards the national goal of curing epilepsy.
Project description:In eukaryotes, DNA is packaged into chromatin by canonical histone proteins. The specialized histone H3 variant CENP-A provides an epigenetic and structural basis for chromosome segregation by replacing H3 at centromeres. Unlike exclusively octameric canonical H3 nucleosomes, CENP-A nucleosomes have been shown to exist as octamers, hexamers, and tetramers. An intriguing possibility reconciling these observations is that CENP-A nucleosomes cycle between octamers and tetramers in vivo. We tested this hypothesis by tracking CENP-A nucleosomal components, structure, chromatin folding, and covalent modifications across the human cell cycle. We report that CENP-A nucleosomes alter from tetramers to octamers before replication and revert to tetramers after replication. These structural transitions are accompanied by reversible chaperone binding, chromatin fiber folding changes, and previously undescribed modifications within the histone fold domains of CENP-A and H4. Our results reveal a cyclical nature to CENP-A nucleosome structure and have implications for the maintenance of epigenetic memory after centromere replication.
Project description:Methylation of DNA and histone proteins are mutually involved in the epigenetic regulation of gene expression mediated by DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and histone methyltransferases (HMTs). DNMTs methylate cytosine residues within gene promoters, whereas HMTs catalyze the transfer of methyl groups to lysine and arginine residues of histone proteins, thus causing chromatin condensation and transcriptional repression, which play an important role in the pathogenesis of cancer. The potential reversibility of epigenetic alterations has encouraged the development of dual pharmacologic inhibitors of DNA and histone methylation as anticancer therapeutics. Dietary flavones can affect epigenetic modifications that accumulate over time and have shown anticancer properties, which are undefined. Through DNA binding and in silico protein-ligand docking studies with plant flavones viz. Apigenin, Chrysin and Luteolin, the effect of flavones on DNA and histone methylation was assessed. Spectroscopic analysis of flavones with calf-thymus DNA revealed intercalation as the dominant binding mode, with specific binding to a GC-rich sequence in the DNA duplex. A virtual screening approach using a model of the catalytic site of DNMT and EZH2 demonstrated that plant flavones are tethered at both ends inside the catalytic pocket of DNMT and EZH2 by means of hydrogen bonding. Epigenetic studies performed with flavones exhibited a decrease in DNMT enzyme activity and a reversal of the hypermethylation of cytosine bases in the DNA and prevented cytosine methylation in the GC-rich promoter sequence incubated with the M.SssI enzyme. Furthermore, a marked decrease in HMT activity and a decrease in EZH2 protein expression and trimethylation of H3K27 were noted in histones isolated from cancer cells treated with plant flavones. Our results suggest that dietary flavones can alter DNMT and HMT activities and the methylation of DNA and histone proteins that regulate epigenetic modifications, thus providing a significant anticancer effect by altering epigenetic processes involved in the development of cancer.
Project description:Nucleosomes contain ?146 bp of DNA wrapped around a histone protein octamer that controls DNA accessibility to transcription and repair complexes. Posttranslational modification (PTM) of histone proteins regulates nucleosome function. To date, only modest changes in nucleosome structure have been directly attributed to histone PTMs. Histone residue H3(T118) is located near the nucleosome dyad and can be phosphorylated. This PTM destabilizes nucleosomes and is implicated in the regulation of transcription and repair. Here, we report gel electrophoretic mobility, sucrose gradient sedimentation, thermal disassembly, micrococcal nuclease digestion and atomic force microscopy measurements of two DNA-histone complexes that are structurally distinct from nucleosomes. We find that H3(T118ph) facilitates the formation of a nucleosome duplex with two DNA molecules wrapped around two histone octamers, and an altosome complex that contains one DNA molecule wrapped around two histone octamers. The nucleosome duplex complex forms within short ?150 bp DNA molecules, whereas altosomes require at least ?250 bp of DNA and form repeatedly along 3000 bp DNA molecules. These results are the first report of a histone PTM significantly altering the nucleosome structure.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRs) regulate a variety of cellular processes, and their impaired expression is involved in cancer. Silencing of tumor-suppressive miRs in cancer can occur through epigenetic modifications, including DNA methylation and histone deacetylation. We performed comparative miR profiling on cultured lung cancer cells before and after treatment with 5'aza-deoxycytidine plus Trichostatin A to reverse DNA methylation and histone deacetylation, respectively. Several tens of miRs were strongly induced by such 'epigenetic therapy'. Two representatives, miR-512-5p (miR-512) and miR-373, were selected for further analysis. Both miRs were secreted in exosomes. Re-expression of both miRs augmented cisplatin-induced apoptosis and inhibited cell migration; miR-512 also reduced cell proliferation. TEAD4 mRNA was confirmed as a direct target of miR-512; likewise, miR-373 was found to target RelA and PIK3CA mRNA directly. Our results imply that miR-512 and miR-373 exert cell-autonomous and non-autonomous tumor-suppressive effects in lung cancer cells, where their re-expression may benefit epigenetic cancer therapy.