Quantitative Analysis of Cell Aggregation Dynamics Identifies HDAC Inhibitors as Potential Regulators of Cancer Cell Clustering

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Nov 21;13(22):5840. doi: 10.3390/cancers13225840.


Characterization of the molecular mechanisms involved in tumor cell clustering could open the way to new therapeutic strategies. Towards this aim, we used an in vitro quantitative procedure to monitor the anchorage-independent cell aggregation kinetics in a panel of 25 cancer cell lines. The analysis of the relationship between selected aggregation dynamic parameters and the gene expression data for these cell lines from the CCLE database allowed identifying genes with expression significantly associated with aggregation parameter variations. Comparison of these transcripts with the perturbagen signatures from the Connectivity Map resource highlighted that they were strongly correlated with the transcriptional signature of most histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors. Experimental evaluation of two HDAC inhibitors (SAHA and ISOX) showed that they inhibited the initial step of in vitro tumor cell aggregation. This validates our findings and reinforces the potential interest of HDCA inhibitors to prevent metastasis spreading.

Keywords: Connectivity Map; HDAC inhibitors; anchorage-independent aggregation; cancer cell clustering; transcriptional expression.