Cross-communication between histone H3 and H4 acetylation and Akt-mTOR signalling in prostate cancer cells

J Cell Mol Med. 2014 Jul;18(7):1460-6. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.12299. Epub 2014 Apr 30.


Molecular tumour targeting has significantly improved anti-cancer protocols. Still, the addition of molecular targeting to the treatment regime has not led to a curative breakthrough. Combined mammalian target of Rapamycin (mTOR) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition has been shown not only to enhance anti-tumour potential, but also to prevent resistance development seen under mono-drug therapy. This investigation was designed to evaluate whether cross-communication exists between mTOR signalling and epigenetic events regulated by HDAC. DU-145 prostate cancer cells were treated with insulin-like growth factor (IGF) to activate the Akt-mTOR cascade or with the HDAC-inhibitor valproic acid (VPA) to induce histone H3 and H4 acetylation (aH3, aH4). Subsequently, mTOR, Rictor, Raptor, p70s6k, Akt (all: total and phosphorylated), H3 and H4 (total and acetylated) were analysed by western blotting. Both techniques revealed a link between mTOR and the epigenetic machinery. IGF activated mTOR, Rictor, Raptor, p70s6k and Akt, but also enhanced aH3 and aH4. Inversely, IGFr blockade and knock-down blocked the Akt-mTOR axis, but simultaneously diminished aH3 and aH4. VPA treatment up-regulated histone acetylation, but also activated mTOR-Akt signalling. HDAC1 and 2 knock-down revealed that the interaction with the mTOR system is initiated by histone H3 acetylation. HDAC-mTOR communication, therefore, is apparent whereby tumour-promoting (Akt/mTOR(high), aH3/aH4(low)) and tumour-suppressing signals (Akt/mTOR(low) , aH3/aH4(high)) are activated in parallel. Combined use of an HDAC- and mTOR inhibitor might then diminish pro-tumour effects triggered by the HDAC- (Akt/mTOR(high)) or mTOR inhibitor (aH3/aH4(low)) alone.

Keywords: HDAC; cross-communication; mTOR; prostate cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylases / chemistry
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Receptors, Somatomedin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Somatomedin / genetics
  • Receptors, Somatomedin / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Somatomedin
  • Valproic Acid
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Histone Deacetylases