Histone deacetylase inhibitors induce cell death selectively in cells that harbor activated kRasV12: The role of signal transducers and activators of transcription 1 and p21

Lidija Klampfer, Jie Huang, Senji Shirasawa, Takehiko Sasazuki, Leonard Augenlicht

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30 Scopus citations


Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors (HDACi) show potent and selective antitumor activity despite the fact that they induce histone hyperacetylation in both normal and tumor cells. In this study, we showed that the inducible expression of kRasV12 in nontransformed intestinal epithelial cells significantly lowered the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and sensitized cells to HDACi-induced apoptosis. Consistent with our finding that colon cancer cell lines with mutant Ras have reduced expression of signal transducers and activators of transcription 1 (STAT1), we showed that inducible expression of mutant Ras markedly decreased both basal and inducible expression of STAT1, a transcription factor with tumor suppressor activity. To investigate whether reduced expression of STAT1 in cells that harbor mutant Ras contributes to their increased sensitivity to HDACi, we silenced the expression of STAT1 in HKe-3 cells with small interfering RNA. Despite the fact that silencing of STAT1 was not sufficient to alter the MMP, STAT1 deficiency, like Ras mutations, sensitized cells to apoptosis induced by HDACi. We showed that the induction of p21 by HDACi was significantly impaired in HKe-3 cells with silenced STAT1 expression and showed that the ability of butyrate to activate p21 transcription was diminished in STAT1-deficient HKe-3 cells. Finally, we used cells with targeted deletion of p21 to confirm that p21 protects cells from butyrate-induced apoptosis, strongly suggesting that in these cells STAT1 deficiency promotes butyrate-induced apoptosis through impaired induction of p21. Our data therefore establish that Ras mutations, and consequent reduction in the expression of STAT1, underlie the increased susceptibility of transformed cells to undergo apoptosis in response to treatment with inhibitors of HDAC activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8477-8485
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sep 15 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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