Resveratrol (3,4',5-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene), a polyphenol naturally occurring in grapes and other plants, has cancer chemo-preventive effects and therapeutic potential. Although resveratrol modulates multiple pathways in tumor cells, how resveratrol or its affected pathways converge on chromatin to mediate its effects is not known. Using glioma cells as a model, we showed here that resveratrol inhibited cell proliferation and induced cellular hypertrophy by transforming spindle-shaped cells to enlarged, irregular and flatten-shaped ones. We further showed that resveratrol-induced hypertrophic cells expressed senescence-associated-β-galactosidase, suggesting that resveratrol-induced cellular senescence in glioma cells. Consistent with these observations, we demonstrated that resveratrol inhibited clonogenic efficiencies in vitro and tumor growth in a xenograft model. Furthermore, we found that acute treatment of resveratrol inhibited mono-ubiquitination of histone H2B at K120 (uH2B) in breast, prostate, pancreatic, lung, brain tumor cells as well as primary human cells. Chronic treatment with low doses of resveratrol also inhibited uH2B in the resveratrol-induced senescent glioma cells. Moreover, we showed that depletion of RNF20, a ubiquitin ligase of histone H2B, inhibited uH2B and induced cellular senescence in glioma cells in vitro, thereby recapitulated the effects of resveratrol. Taken together, our results suggest that uH2B is a novel direct or indirect chromatin target of resveratrol and RNF20 plays an important role in inhibiting cellular senescence programs that are intact in glioma cells.
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