Reduced chromatin binding of MYC is a key effect of HDAC inhibition in MYC amplified medulloblastoma

Neuro Oncol. 2021 Feb 25;23(2):226-239. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noaa191.


Background: The sensitivity of myelocytomatosis oncogene (MYC) amplified medulloblastoma to class I histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition has been shown previously; however, understanding the underlying molecular mechanism is crucial for selection of effective HDAC inhibitors for clinical use. The aim of this study was to investigate the direct molecular interaction of MYC and class I HDAC2, and the impact of class I HDAC inhibition on MYC function.

Methods: Co-immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry were used to determine the co-localization of MYC and HDAC2. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) sequencing and gene expression profiling were used to analyze the co-localization of MYC and HDAC2 on DNA and the impact on transcriptional activity in primary tumors and a MYC amplified cell line treated with the class I HDAC inhibitor entinostat. The effect on MYC was investigated by quantitative real-time PCR, western blot, and immunofluorescence.

Results: HDAC2 is a cofactor of MYC in MYC amplified medulloblastoma. The MYC-HDAC2 complex is bound to genes defining the MYC-dependent transcriptional profile. Class I HDAC inhibition leads to stabilization and reduced DNA binding of MYC protein, inducing a downregulation of MYC activated genes (MAGs) and upregulation of MYC repressed genes (MRGs). MAGs and MRGs are characterized by opposing biological functions and by distinct enhancer-box distribution.

Conclusions: Our data elucidate the molecular interaction of MYC and HDAC2 and support a model in which inhibition of class I HDACs directly targets MYC's transactivating and transrepressing functions.

Keywords: E-box; HDAC2; MYC; medulloblastoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Chromatin
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Humans
  • Medulloblastoma* / drug therapy
  • Medulloblastoma* / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylases