Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly aggressive cancer with a particularly dismal prognosis. Histone deacetylases (HDAC) are epigenetic modulators whose activity is frequently deregulated in various cancers including PDAC. In particular, class-I HDACs (HDAC 1, 2, 3 and 8) have been shown to play an important role in PDAC. In this study, we investigated the effects of the class I-specific HDAC inhibitor (HDACi) 4SC-202 in multiple PDAC cell lines in promoting tumor cell differentiation. We show that 4SC-202 negatively affects TGFβ signaling and inhibits TGFβ-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Moreover, 4SC-202 markedly induced p21 (CDKN1A) expression and significantly attenuated cell proliferation. Mechanistically, genome-wide studies revealed that 4SC-202-induced genes were enriched for Bromodomain-containing Protein-4 (BRD4) and MYC occupancy. BRD4, a well-characterized acetyllysine reader, has been shown to play a major role in regulating transcription of selected subsets of genes. Importantly, BRD4 and MYC are essential for the expression of a subgroup of genes induced by class-I HDACi. Taken together, our study uncovers a previously unknown role of BRD4 and MYC in eliciting the HDACi-mediated induction of a subset of genes and provides molecular insight into the mechanisms of HDACi action in PDAC.
© The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.