Class IIa HDACs: from important roles in differentiation to possible implications in tumourigenesis

J Cell Mol Med. 2011 Sep;15(9):1833-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2011.01321.x.


Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are important regulators of gene expression. Specific structural features and distinct regulative mechanisms rationalize the separation of the 18 different human HDACs into four classes. The class II comprises a heterogeneous group of nuclear and cytosolic HDACs involved in the regulation of several cellular functions, not just limited to transcriptional repression. In particular, HDAC4, 5, 7 and 9 belong to the subclass IIa and share many transcriptional partners, including members of the MEF2 family. Genetic studies in mice have disclosed the fundamental contribution of class IIa HDACs to specific developmental/differentiation pathways. In this review, we discuss about the recent literature, which hints a role of class IIa HDACs in the development, growth and aggressiveness of cancer cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Histone Deacetylases / chemistry
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological


  • Histone Deacetylases