Cross-communication between histone H3 and H4 acetylation and Akt-mTOR signalling in prostate cancer cells

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Molecular tumour targeting has significantly improved anti-cancer protocols. Still, the addition of molecular targeting to the treatment regime has not led to a curative breakthrough. Combined mammalian target of Rapamycin (mTOR) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition has been shown not only to enhance anti-tumour potential, but also to prevent resistance development seen under mono-drug therapy. This investigation was designed to evaluate whether cross-communication exists between mTOR signalling and epigenetic events regulated by HDAC. DU-145 prostate cancer cells were treated with insulin-like growth factor (IGF) to activate the Akt-mTOR cascade or with the HDAC-inhibitor valproic acid (VPA) to induce histone H3 and H4 acetylation (aH3, aH4). Subsequently, mTOR, Rictor, Raptor, p70s6k, Akt (all: total and phosphorylated), H3 and H4 (total and acetylated) were analysed by western blotting. Both techniques revealed a link between mTOR and the epigenetic machinery. IGF activated mTOR, Rictor, Raptor, p70s6k and Akt, but also enhanced aH3 and aH4. Inversely, IGFr blockade and knock-down blocked the Akt-mTOR axis, but simultaneously diminished aH3 and aH4. VPA treatment up-regulated histone acetylation, but also activated mTOR-Akt signalling. HDAC1 and 2 knock-down revealed that the interaction with the mTOR system is initiated by histone H3 acetylation. HDAC-mTOR communication, therefore, is apparent whereby tumour-promoting (Akt/mTORhigh, aH3/aH4low) and tumour-suppressing signals (Akt/mTORlow, aH3/aH4high) are activated in parallel. Combined use of an HDAC- and mTOR inhibitor might then diminish pro-tumour effects triggered by the HDAC- (Akt/mTORhigh) or mTOR inhibitor (aH3/aH4low) alone.

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