Spermidinyl-CoA-based HAT inhibitors block DNA repair and provide cancer- specific chemo-and radiosensitization


Acetyl group turnover on specific lysine ε-amino groups of the core chromosomal histones regulates DNA accessibility function, and the acetylating and deacetylating enzymes that govern the turnover provide important targets for the development of anti-cancer drugs.  Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors have been developed and evaluated extensively in clinical trials, while the development of inhibitors of histone acetyltransferase (HAT) has proceeded more slowly.  Here we have examined the cellular effects of an S-substituted coenzyme A (CoA) inhibitor of histone acetylation, consisting of spermidine (Spd) linked to the S-terminus of CoA through a thioglycolic acid linkage (adduct abbreviated as Spd-CoA), as well as the effects of a truncated Spd-CoA derivative lacking the negatively charged portion of the CoA moiety.  While exposure of cancer cells to Spd-CoA has little effect on cell viability, it causes a rapid inhibition of histone acetylation that correlates with a transient arrest of DNA synthesis, a transient delay in S-phase progression, and an inhibition of nucleotide excision repair and DNA double strand break repair.   These effects correlate with increased cellular sensitivity to the DNA-targeted chemotherapeutic drugs, cisplatin (Platinol™) and 5-Fluorouracil, to the DNA damaging drug, camptothecin, and to UV-C irradiation.  The sensitization effects of Spd-CoA are not observed in normal cells due to a barrier to uptake.  The truncated Spd-CoA derivative displays similar but enhanced chemosensitization effects, suggesting that further modifications of the Spd-CoA structure could further improve potency.  The results demonstrate that Spd-CoA and its truncated version are efficiently and selectively internalized into cancer cells, and suggest that the resulting inhibition of acetylation-dependent DNA repair enhances cellular sensitivity to DNA damage.   These and related inhibitors of histone acetylation could therefore constitute a novel class of potent therapy sensitizers applicable to a broad range of conventional cancer treatments.

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Spermidinyl-CoA-based HAT inhibitors block DNA repair and provide cancer- specific chemo-and radiosensitization