Author(s): VleeshouwerNeumann T, Phelps M, Bammler TK, MacDonald JW, Jenkins I
Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) is the most common soft tissue cancer in children. The prognosis of patients with relapsed or metastatic disease remains poor. ERMS genomes show few recurrent mutations, suggesting that other molecular mechanisms such as epigenetic regulation might play a major role in driving ERMS tumor biology. In this study, we have demonstrated the diverse roles of histone deacetylases (HDACs) in the pathogenesis of ERMS by characterizing effects of HDAC inhibitors, trichostatin A (TSA) and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA; also known as vorinostat) in vitro and in vivo. TSA and SAHA suppress ERMS tumor growth and progression by inducing myogenic differentiation as well as reducing the self-renewal and migratory capacity of ERMS cells. Differential expression profiling and pathway analysis revealed downregulation of key oncogenic pathways upon HDAC inhibitor treatment. By gain-of-function, loss-of-function, and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) studies, we show that Notch1- and EphrinB1-mediated pathways are regulated by HDACs to inhibit differentiation and enhance migratory capacity of ERMS cells, respectively. Our study demonstrates that aberrant HDAC activity plays a major role in ERMS pathogenesis. Druggable targets in the molecular pathways affected by HDAC inhibitors represent novel therapeutic options for ERMS patients.