Histone deacetylase inhibitors - A new tool to treat cancer

Raz Somech*, Shai Izraeli, Amos J. Simon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transcriptional regulation in eukaryotes is a multilevel hierarchical process. It is becoming clear that higher-order chromatin structure, occurring via modifications of histones in their nucleosome structure, plays a crucial role in regulating gene expression, both in normal and pathological states. Deacetylation of histones by histone deacetylases (HDACs) modifies the chromatin from an open gene active euchromatin structure to a closed gene silenced heterochromatin structure.Several cancer promoting mutations and chromosomal translocations result in repression of transcription through abnormal recruitment and activation of HDACs, leading to neoplastic transformation. This is the rationale for the evolvement of HDAC inhibitors as a new class in cancer therapy. Trials have shown anti-proliferation effect of histone deacetylase inhibitors in cell culture, animal models and in human with both hematological and solid tumors. The exact mechanism by which histone deacetylase inhibitors exert their effect is still obscure. Reversal of the alteration in gene expression by fusion transcription factors or overexpressed repressors is just one of several possible explanations. The territory of heterochromatin in the vicinity of the nuclear periphery raised the possibility of involvement of nuclear envelope proteins in the regulation of transcription. Our laboratory is interested in the transcription repression mechanism induced by the nuclear envelope lamina associated polypeptide 2 (LAP2) family of proteins through chromatin modification.Here, we will describe the structure of the nucleosome, review regulation of gene expression by acetylation of histones and give an update on the current phase I and phase II clinical trials with histone deacetylase inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-472
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Treatment Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Cancer
  • Chromatin
  • Deacetylation
  • HDAC
  • HDAC inhibitors
  • Histones
  • LAP2
  • Nuclear envelope
  • Transcription
  • Treatment


Dive into the research topics of 'Histone deacetylase inhibitors - A new tool to treat cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this