The histone deacetylase inhibitor suberic bishydroxamate: a potential sensitizer of melanoma to TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induced apoptosis

Biochem Pharmacol. 2003 Oct 15;66(8):1537-45. doi: 10.1016/s0006-2952(03)00509-4.


TRAIL appears to be a promising anticancer agent in that it induces apoptosis in a wide range of cancer cells but not normal tissues. Sensitivity of melanoma cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis varied considerably because of their development of various resistance mechanisms against apoptosis. We discuss in this report the potential effect of a histone deacetylase inhibitor SBHA on TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors regulate histone acetylation and thereby modulate the transcriptional activity of certain genes leading to cell growth arrest, cellular differentiation, and apoptosis. Suberic bishydroxamate (SBHA) is a relatively new HDAC inhibitor that induced apoptosis in the majority of melanoma cell lines through a mitochondrial and caspase-dependent pathway. This was due to its regulation of the expression of multiple proteins that are involved in either the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway (Bcl-2 family members) or the final phase of apoptosis (caspase-3 and XIAP). Co-treatment with SBHA at nontoxic doses and TRAIL resulted in a marked increase in TRAIL-induced apoptosis of melanoma, but showed no toxicity to melanocytes. SBHA appeared to sensitize melanoma to TRAIL-induced apoptosis by up-regulation of pro-apoptotic proteins in the TRAIL-induced apoptotic pathway such as caspase-8, caspase-3, Bid, Bak, and Bax, and up-regulation of the BH3 domain only protein, Bim. This, together with activated Bid, may have acted synergistically to cause changes in mitochondria. Treatment with SBHA also resulted in down-regulation of antiapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family, Bcl-X(L) and Mcl-1, and the IAP member, XIAP. These changes would further facilitate apoptotic signaling. SBHA appeared therefore to be a potent agent in overcoming resistance of melanoma to TRAIL-induced apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Apoptosis*
  • Caprylates*
  • Dicarboxylic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxamic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Melanoma / enzymology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / pharmacology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Caprylates
  • Dicarboxylic Acids
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • TNFSF10 protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • suberic acid