Dynamically regulated sumoylation of HDAC2 controls p53 deacetylation and restricts apoptosis following genotoxic stress

J Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Oct;4(5):284-93. doi: 10.1093/jmcb/mjs013. Epub 2012 Apr 5.


Histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) is relevant for homeostasis and plays a critical role in gastrointestinal cancers. Here, we report that post-translational modification of endogenous HDAC2 with small ubiquitin-related modifier 1 (SUMO1) is a new regulatory switch for the tumor suppressor p53. Sumoylation of HDAC2 at lysine 462 allows binding of HDAC2 to p53. Moreover, sumoylated HDAC2 is a previously not recognized biologically relevant site-specific deacetylase for p53. Deacetylation of p53 at lysine 320 by sumoylated HDAC2 blocks recruitment of p53 into promoter-associated complexes and p53-dependent expression of genes for cell cycle control and apoptosis. Thereby, catalytically active sumoylated HDAC2 restricts p53 functions and attenuates DNA damage-induced apoptosis. Genotoxic stress evokes desumoylation of HDAC2, enabling p53-dependent gene expression. Our data show a new molecular mechanism involving a dynamically controlled HDAC2-sumoylation/p53-acetylation switch that regulates cell fate decisions following genotoxic stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Damage*
  • HCT116 Cells
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Histone Deacetylase 2 / genetics
  • Histone Deacetylase 2 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Sumoylation
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • HDAC2 protein, human
  • Histone Deacetylase 2