Histone deacetylases and cancer

Oncogene. 2007 Aug 13;26(37):5420-32. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1210610.


Histone deacetylases (HDACs) regulate the expression and activity of numerous proteins involved in both cancer initiation and cancer progression. By removal of acetyl groups from histones, HDACs create a non-permissive chromatin conformation that prevents the transcription of genes that encode proteins involved in tumorigenesis. In addition to histones, HDACs bind to and deacetylate a variety of other protein targets including transcription factors and other abundant cellular proteins implicated in control of cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis. This review provides a comprehensive examination of the transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms by which HDACs alter the expression and function of cancer-associated proteins and examines the general impact of HDAC activity in cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Histones
  • Transcription Factors
  • Histone Deacetylases