International journal of cancer

Combination of proteasome and class I HDAC inhibitors induces apoptosis of NPC cells through an HDAC6-independent ER stress-induced mechanism.

PMID 24771510


The current paradigm stipulates that inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC) 6 is essential for the combinatorial effect of proteasome and HDAC inhibitors for the treatment of cancers. Our study aims to investigate the effect of combining different class I HDAC inhibitors (without HDAC6 action) with a proteasome inhibitor on apoptosis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). We found that combination of a proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib, and several class I HDAC inhibitors, including MS-275, apicidin and romidepsin, potently induced killing of NPC cells both in vitro and in vivo. Among the drug pairs, combination of bortezomib and romidepsin (bort/romidepsin) was the most potent and could induce apoptosis at low nanomolar concentrations. The apoptosis of NPC cells was reactive oxygen species (ROS)- and caspase-dependent but was independent of HDAC6 inhibition. Of note, bort/romidepsin might directly suppress the formation of aggresome through the downregulation of c-myc. In addition, two markers of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced apoptosis, ATF-4 and CHOP/GADD153, were upregulated, whereas a specific inhibitor of caspase-4 (an initiator of ER stress-induced apoptosis) could suppress the apoptosis. When ROS level in the NPC cells was reduced to the untreated level, ER stress-induced caspase activation was abrogated. Collectively, our data demonstrate a model of synergism between proteasome and class I HDAC inhibitors in the induction of ROS-dependent ER stress-induced apoptosis of NPC cells, independent of HDAC6 inhibition, and provide the rationale to combine the more specific and potent class I HDAC inhibitors with proteasome inhibitors for the treatment of cancers.