Histone deacetylase 1 and 2 differentially regulate apoptosis by opposing effects on extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2

Cell Death Dis. 2010 May 20;1(5):e44. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2010.21.


Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are epigenetic regulators that are important for the control of various pathophysiological events. We found that HDAC inhibitors completely abolished transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1)-induced apoptosis in AML-12 and primary mouse hepatocytes. Expression of a dominant-negative mutant of HDAC1 or downregulation of HDAC1 by RNAi both suppressed TGF-β1-induced apoptosis. In addition, overexpression of HDAC1 enhanced TGF-β1-induced apoptosis, and the rescue of HDAC1 expression in HDAC1 RNAi cells restored the apoptotic response of cells to TGF-β1. These data indicate that HDAC1 functions as a proapoptotic factor in TGF-β1-induced apoptosis. In contrast, downregulation of HDAC2 by RNAi increased spontaneous apoptosis and markedly enhanced TGF-β1-induced apoptosis, suggesting that HDAC2 has a reciprocal role in controlling cell survival. Furthermore, inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) by MEK1 inhibitor PD98059 or expression of a kinase-dead mutant of MEK1 restored the apoptotic response to TGF-β1 in HDAC1 RNAi cells. Strikingly, HDAC2 RNAi caused an inhibition of ERK1/2, and the spontaneous apoptosis can be abolished by reactivation of ERK1/2. Taken together, our data demonstrate that HDAC1 and 2 reciprocally affect cell viability by differential regulation of ERK1/2; these observations provide insight into the roles and potential mechanisms of HDAC1 and 2 in apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis* / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / enzymology
  • Histone Deacetylase 1 / metabolism*
  • Histone Deacetylase 2 / metabolism*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / pharmacology


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Hdac1 protein, mouse
  • Hdac2 protein, mouse
  • Histone Deacetylase 1
  • Histone Deacetylase 2