Epigenetic modulation of radiation response in human cancer cells with activated EGFR or HER-2 signaling: Potential role of histone deacetylase 6

In Ah Kim, Mina No, Jang Mi Lee, Jin Hee Shin, Jee Sun Oh, Eun Jung Choi, Il Han Kim, Peter Atadja, Eric J. Bernhard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Background and purpose: Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs) are prototypes of agents targeting epigenetic modifications and have received considerable attention for their promise as targeted anticancer drugs. We examined the effects and potential mechanism(s) of combining LBH589 and irradiation in human cancer cells having activated EGFR or HER-2 signaling, focusing on the role of HDAC6. Methods and materials: We evaluated whether the HDI, LBH589, would radiosensitize a panel of human tumor cell lines having activated EGFR or HER-2 signaling. A mechanistic role for the HDAC6 isotype was investigated using RNA interference and ectopic overexpression HDAC6. Results: The HDI, LBH589, enhanced the radiosensitivity of the human carcinoma cell lines we tested. Radiosensitization was accompanied by abrogation of radiation-induced G2/M arrest and was associated with aberrant mitotic features and prolonged γH2AX foci. Radiation-induced apoptosis was also increased. LBH589 radiosensitized cells with activated EGFR or HER-2 signaling to a greater degree than the HDIs SK7041 or TSA. However radiosensitization by the three HDI was equivalent in cells without activation of this signaling. LBH589 led acetylation of histone H3 and HSP90. This was associated with down-regulation of the client oncoproteins EGFR, HER-2, and decreased phosphorylation of Akt and ERK. Specific inhibition of HDAC6 by RNAi increased radiosensitivity as well as increasing acetylation of HSP90 and reducing the association of HSP90 with its client proteins. Conversely, ectopic overexpression of HDAC6 isotype increased the levels of p-EGFR and p-AKT expression, and reduced LBH589-mediated radiosensitization. Conclusions: These findings define a unique mechanism for counteracting pro-survival signaling from EGFR or HER-2 that is present in many tumor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-132
Number of pages8
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2009


  • HDAC 6
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitors
  • Radiosensitization

Cite this