Histone deacetylase inhibitors reverse gene silencing in Friedreich's ataxia.

Department of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.
Nature Chemical Biology (Impact Factor: 13.22). 11/2006; 2(10):551-8. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio815
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Expansion of GAA x TTC triplets within an intron in FXN (the gene encoding frataxin) leads to transcription silencing, forming the molecular basis for the neurodegenerative disease Friedreich's ataxia. Gene silencing at expanded FXN alleles is accompanied by hypoacetylation of histones H3 and H4 and trimethylation of histone H3 at Lys9, observations that are consistent with a heterochromatin-mediated repression mechanism. We describe the synthesis and characterization of a class of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors that reverse FXN silencing in primary lymphocytes from individuals with Friedreich's ataxia. We show that these molecules directly affect the histones associated with FXN, increasing acetylation at particular lysine residues on histones H3 and H4 (H3K14, H4K5 and H4K12). This class of HDAC inhibitors may yield therapeutics for Friedreich's ataxia.

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    ABSTRACT: The genetic defect in Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) is the hyperexpansion of a GAA•TTC triplet in the first intron of the FXN gene, encoding the essential mitochondrial protein frataxin. Histone post-translational modifications near the expanded repeats are consistent with heterochromatin formation and consequent FXN gene silencing. Using a newly developed human neuronal cell model, derived from patient-induced pluripotent stem cells, we find that 2-aminobenzamide histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors increase FXN mRNA levels and frataxin protein in FRDA neuronal cells. However, only compounds targeting the class I HDACs 1 and 3 are active in increasing FXN mRNA in these cells. Structural analogs of the active HDAC inhibitors that selectively target either HDAC1 or HDAC3 do not show similar increases in FXN mRNA levels. To understand the mechanism of action of these compounds, we probed the kinetic properties of the active and inactive inhibitors, and found that only compounds that target HDACs 1 and 3 exhibited a slow-on/slow-off mechanism of action for the HDAC enzymes. HDAC1- and HDAC3-selective compounds did not show this activity. Using siRNA methods in the FRDA neuronal cells, we show increases in FXN mRNA upon silencing of either HDACs 1 or 3, suggesting the possibility that inhibition of each of these class I HDACs is necessary for activation of FXN mRNA synthesis, as there appears to be redundancy in the silencing mechanism caused by the GAA•TTC repeats. Moreover, inhibitors must have a long residence time on their target enzymes for this activity. By interrogating microarray data from neuronal cells treated with inhibitors of different specificity, we selected two genes encoding histone macroH2A (H2AFY2) and Polycomb group ring finger 2 (PCGF2) that were specifically down-regulated by the inhibitors targeting HDACs1 and 3 versus the more selective inhibitors for further investigation. Both genes are involved in transcriptional repression and we speculate their involvement in FXN gene silencing. Our results shed light on the mechanism whereby HDAC inhibitors increase FXN mRNA levels in FRDA neuronal cells.
    Frontiers in Neurology 01/2015; 6:44. DOI:10.3389/fneur.2015.00044
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    ABSTRACT: Friedreich's ataxia is a neurodegenerative disease caused by deficiency of the mitochondrial protein frataxin. This deficiency results from expansion of a trinucleotide repeat in the first intron of the frataxin gene. Because this repeat expansion resides in an intron and hence does not alter the amino acid sequence of the frataxin protein, gene reactivation could be of therapeutic benefit. High-throughput screening for frataxin activators has so far met with limited success because current cellular models may not accurately assess endogenous frataxin gene regulation. Here we report the design and validation of genome-engineering tools that enable the generation of human cell lines that express the frataxin gene fused to a luciferase reporter gene from its endogenous locus. Performing a pilot high-throughput genomic screen in a newly established reporter cell line, we uncovered novel negative regulators of frataxin expression. Rational design of small-molecule inhibitors of the identified frataxin repressors and/or high-throughput screening of large siRNA or compound libraries with our system may yield treatments for Friedreich's ataxia. © 2015 Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening.
    Journal of Biomolecular Screening 01/2015; DOI:10.1177/1087057114568071 · 2.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is the most common autosomal recessive ataxia worldwide. This review highlights the main clinical features, pathophysiological mechanisms, and therapeutic approaches for FRDA patients. The disease is characterized by a combination of neurological involvement (ataxia and neuropathy), cardiomyopathy, skeletal abnormalities, and glucose metabolism disturbances. FRDA is caused by expanded guanine-adenine-adenine (GAA) triplet repeats in the first intron of the frataxin gene (FXN), resulting in reduction of messenger RNA and protein levels of frataxin in different tissues. The molecular and metabolic disturbances, including iron accumulation, lead to pathological changes characterized by spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia atrophy, dentate nucleus atrophy without global cerebellar volume reduction, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. DNA analysis is the hallmark for the diagnosis of FRDA. There is no specific treatment to stop the disease progression in FRDA patients. However, a number of drugs are under investigation. Therapeutic approaches intend to improve mitochondrial functioning and to increase FXN expression.
    Neurogenetics 02/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10048-015-0439-z · 2.66 Impact Factor

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