Synergistic effect of HDAC inhibitor Chidamide with Cladribine on cell cycle arrest and apoptosis by targeting HDAC2/c-Myc/RCC1 axis in acute myeloid leukemia

Siyu Gu, Yue Hou, Katarina Dovat, Sinisa Dovat, Chunhua Song, Zheng Ge

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4 Scopus citations


Background: More effective targeted therapy and new combination regimens are needed for Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), owing to the unsatisfactory long-term prognosis of the disease. Here, we investigated the synergistic effect and the mechanism of a histone deacetylase inhibitor, Chidamide in combination with Cladribine, a purine nucleoside antimetabolite analog in the disease. Methods: Cell counting kit-8 assays and Chou-Talalay’s combination index were used to examine the synergistic effect of Chidamide and Cladribine on AML cell lines (U937, THP-1, and MV4-11) and primary AML cells. PI and Annexin-V/PI assays were used to detect the cell cycle effect and apoptosis effect, respectively. Global transcriptome analysis, RT-qPCR, c-MYC Knockdown, western blotting, co-immunoprecipitation, and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were employed to explore the molecule mechanisms. Results: The combination of Chidamide with Cladribine showed a significant increase in cell proliferation arrest, the G0/G1 phase arrest, and apoptosis compared to the single drug control in AML cell lines along with upregulated p21Waf1/Cip1 expression and downregulated CDK2/Cyclin E2 complex, and elevated cleaved caspase-9, caspase-3, and PARP. The combination significantly suppresses the c-MYC expression in AML cells, and c-MYC knockdown significantly increased the sensitivity of U937 cells to the combination compared to single drug control. Moreover, we observed HDAC2 interacts with c-Myc in AML cells, and we further identified that c-Myc binds to the promoter region of RCC1 that also could be suppressed by the combination through c-Myc-dependent. Consistently, a positive correlation of RCC1 with c-MYC was observed in the AML patient cohort. Also, RCC1 and HDAC2 high expression are associated with poor survival in AML patients. Finally, we also observed the combination significantly suppresses cell growth and induces the apoptosis of primary cells in AML patients with AML1-ETO fusion, c-KIT mutation, MLL-AF6 fusion, FLT3-ITD mutation, and in a CMML-BP patient with complex karyotype. Conclusions: Our results demonstrated the synergistic effect of Chidamide with Cladribine on cell growth arrest, cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis in AML and primary cells with genetic defects by targeting HDAC2/c-Myc/RCC1 signaling in AML. Our data provide experimental evidence for the undergoing clinical trial (Clinical Trial ID: NCT05330364) of Chidamide plus Cladribine as a new potential regimen in AML.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number23
JournalExperimental Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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