Isoniazid (INH) is a first-line anti-tuberculosis drug used for nearly 70 years. However, the mechanism underlying the side effects of INH has remained elusive. Here, we report that INH and its metabolites induce a post-translational modification (PTM) of histones, lysine isonicotinylation (Kinic), also called 4-picolinylation, in cells and mice. INH promotes the biosynthesis of isonicotinyl-CoA (Inic-CoA), a co-factor of intracellular isonicotinylation. Mass spectrometry reveals 26 Kinic sites in histones in HepG2 cells. Acetyltransferases CREB-binding protein (CBP) and P300 catalyse histone Kinic, while histone deacetylase HDAC3 functions as a deisonicotinylase. Notably, MNase sensitivity assay and RNA-seq analysis show that histone Kinic relaxes chromatin structure and promotes gene transcription. INH-mediated histone Kinic upregulates PIK3R1 gene expression and activates the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signalling pathway in liver cancer cells, linking INH to tumourigenicity in the liver. We demonstrate that Kinic is a histone acylation mark with a pyridine ring, which may have broad biological effects. Therefore, INH-induced isonicotinylation potentially accounts for the side effects in patients taking INH long-term for anti-tuberculosis therapy, and this modification may increase the risk of cancer in humans.
© 2021. The Author(s).