Targeting the T-Cell Lymphoma Epigenome Induces Cell Death, Cancer Testes Antigens, Immune-Modulatory Signaling Pathways

Mol Cancer Ther. 2021 Aug;20(8):1422-1430. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-20-0377. Epub 2021 Jun 9.


The peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCL) could be considered the prototypical epigenetic disease. As a disease, they are uniquely sensitive to histone deacetylase (HDAC) and DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitors, both alone and in combination, are characterized by a host of mutations in epigenetic genes, and can develop spontaneously in genetically engineered murine models predicated on established recurring mutations in (RHOAG17V) and TET2, an epigenetic gene governing DNA methylation. Given the clinical benefit of HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) and hypomethlyation agents alone and in combination in PTCL, we sought to explore a mechanistic basis for these agents in PTCL. Herein, we reveal profound class synergy between HDAC and DNMT inhibitors in PTCL, and that the combination induces degrees of gene expression that are substantially different and more extensive than that observed for the single agents. A prominent signature of the combination relates to the transcriptional induction of cancer testis antigens and genes involved in the immune response. Interestingly, TBX21 and STAT4, master regulators of TH1 differentiation, were among the genes upregulated by the combination, suggesting the induction of a TH1-like phenotype. Moreover, suppression of genes involved in cholesterol metabolism and the matrisome were also identified. We believe that these data provide a strong rationale for clinical studies, and future combinations leveraging an immunoepigenetic platform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural