Reversible lysine acetylation of histones is a key epigenetic regulatory process controlling gene expression. Reversible histone acetylation is mediated by two opposing enzyme families: histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs). Moreover, many non-histone targets of HATs and HDACs are known, suggesting a crucial role for lysine acetylation as a posttranslational modification on the cellular proteome and protein function far beyond chromatin-mediated gene regulation. The HDAC family consists of 18 members and pan-HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) are clinically used for the treatment of certain types of cancer. HDACi or individual HDAC member-deficient (cell lineage-specific) mice have also been tested in a large number of preclinical mouse models for several autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases and in most cases HDACi treatment results in an attenuation of clinical disease severity. A reduction of disease severity has also been observed in mice lacking certain HDAC members. This indicates a high therapeutic potential of isoform-selective HDACi for immune-mediated diseases. Isoform-selective HDACi and thus targeted inactivation of HDAC isoforms might also overcome the adverse effects of current clinically approved pan-HDACi. This review provides a brief overview about the fundamental function of HDACs as epigenetic regulators, highlights the roles of HDACs beyond chromatin-mediated control of gene expression and summarizes the studies showing the impact of HDAC inhibitors and genetic deficiencies of HDAC members for the outcome of autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases with a focus on rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) as an animal model of multiple sclerosis.
Keywords: Animal models; Chromatin/epigenetics; HDACi; Histone deacetylases; Human diseases; Immune cells; Inflammatory bowel disease; Lysine acetylation; Multiple sclerosis; Rheumatoid arthritis.
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