Role of ATF3 in synergistic cancer cell killing by a combination of HDAC inhibitors and agonistic anti-DR5 antibody through ER stress in human colon cancer cells

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014 Mar 7;445(2):320-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.01.184. Epub 2014 Feb 12.


Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs) are promising agents for cancer therapy. However, the mechanism(s) responsible for the efficacy of HDACIs have not yet to be fully elucidated. Death receptor 5 (DR5) is a transmembrane receptor containing death domain that triggers cell death upon binding to TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) or agonistic anti-DR5 monoclonal antibody, and the combination of TRAIL/agonistic anti-DR5 monoclonal antibody and agents that increase the expression of DR5 is expected as a novel anticancer therapeutic strategy. Here we report that six different HDACIs activated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress sensor PERK and eIF2α and induced the ATF4/ATF3/CHOP pathway in p53-deficient human colon cancer cells. This resulted in an increased expression of DR5 on the cell surface and sensitized cells to apoptosis by agonistic anti-DR5 monoclonal antibody. Stress response gene ATF3 was required for efficient DR5 induction by HDACIs, and DR5 reporter assay showed that ATF3 play crucial role for the HDACIs-induced activation of DR5 gene transcription. These provide important mechanistic insight into how HDACIs exhibit pro-apoptotic activity in clinical anti-cancer treatments when they are used in combination with other therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: ATF3; Agonistic anti-DR5 antibody; DR5; ER stress; HDACI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activating Transcription Factor 3 / genetics
  • Activating Transcription Factor 3 / metabolism*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colon / drug effects
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Drug Synergism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / genetics*
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Transcription Factor CHOP / genetics
  • Transcription Factor CHOP / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • eIF-2 Kinase / metabolism


  • ATF3 protein, human
  • Activating Transcription Factor 3
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • DDIT3 protein, human
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Transcription Factor CHOP
  • EIF2AK3 protein, human
  • eIF-2 Kinase