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Event: 1502

Key Event Title

A descriptive phrase which defines a discrete biological change that can be measured. More help

Histone deacetylase inhibition

Short name
The KE short name should be a reasonable abbreviation of the KE title and is used in labelling this object throughout the AOP-Wiki. More help
Histone deacetylase inhibition
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Biological Context

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Level of Biological Organization

Cell term

The location/biological environment in which the event takes place.The biological context describes the location/biological environment in which the event takes place.  For molecular/cellular events this would include the cellular context (if known), organ context, and species/life stage/sex for which the event is relevant. For tissue/organ events cellular context is not applicable.  For individual/population events, the organ context is not applicable.  Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf. More help
Cell term

Organ term

The location/biological environment in which the event takes place.The biological context describes the location/biological environment in which the event takes place.  For molecular/cellular events this would include the cellular context (if known), organ context, and species/life stage/sex for which the event is relevant. For tissue/organ events cellular context is not applicable.  For individual/population events, the organ context is not applicable.  Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf. More help
Organ term

Key Event Components

The KE, as defined by a set structured ontology terms consisting of a biological process, object, and action with each term originating from one of 14 biological ontologies (Ives, et al., 2017; Biological process describes dynamics of the underlying biological system (e.g., receptor signalling).Biological process describes dynamics of the underlying biological system (e.g., receptor signaling).  The biological object is the subject of the perturbation (e.g., a specific biological receptor that is activated or inhibited). Action represents the direction of perturbation of this system (generally increased or decreased; e.g., ‘decreased’ in the case of a receptor that is inhibited to indicate a decrease in the signaling by that receptor).  Note that when editing Event Components, clicking an existing Event Component from the Suggestions menu will autopopulate these fields, along with their source ID and description.  To clear any fields before submitting the event component, use the 'Clear process,' 'Clear object,' or 'Clear action' buttons.  If a desired term does not exist, a new term request may be made via Term Requests.  Event components may not be edited; to edit an event component, remove the existing event component and create a new one using the terms that you wish to add.  Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf. More help
Process Object Action
enzyme inhibitor activity histone deacetylase 1 decreased

Key Event Overview

AOPs Including This Key Event

All of the AOPs that are linked to this KE will automatically be listed in this subsection. This table can be particularly useful for derivation of AOP networks including the KE.Clicking on the name of the AOP will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Role of event in AOP Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Histone deacetylase inhibition leading to testicular atrophy MolecularInitiatingEvent Shihori Tanabe (send email) Open for citation & comment WPHA/WNT Endorsed
HDAC inhibition leads to impeded craniofacial development MolecularInitiatingEvent Marvin Martens (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome
HDAC inhibition leads to neural tube defects MolecularInitiatingEvent Marvin Martens (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome
CerS leads to NTDs KeyEvent Lola Bajard (send email) Open for citation & comment

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KE.In many cases, individual species identified in these structured fields will be those for which the strongest evidence used in constructing the AOP was available in relation to this KE. More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
rat Rattus norvegicus High NCBI
human Homo sapiens High NCBI
mouse Mus musculus High NCBI

Life Stages

An indication of the the relevant life stage(s) for this KE. More help
Life stage Evidence
All life stages Moderate

Sex Applicability

An indication of the the relevant sex for this KE. More help
Term Evidence
Unspecific High

Key Event Description

A description of the biological state being observed or measured, the biological compartment in which it is measured, and its general role in the biology should be provided. More help

Nucleosomes consist of eight core histones, two of each histone H2A, H2B, H3, and H4 [Damaskos et al., 2017]. DNA strands (about 200 bp) wind around the core histones, which can be modified on their N-terminal ends. One possible modification is the acetylation of lysine residues, which decreases the binding strength between DNA and the core histone. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) hydrolyze the acetyl residues [Damaskos et al., 2017]. HDACs remove the acetyl groups from the lysine residues leading to the formation of a condensed and transcriptionally silenced chromatin. Thus, the inhibition of HDAC blocks this action and can result in hyperacetylation of histones associated mostly with increases in transcriptional activation. Histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDI) inhibits HDAC, causing increased acetylation of the histones and thereby facilitating binding of transcription factors [Taunton et al., 1996].

It is known that eukaryotic HDAC isoforms are classified into four classes: class I HDACs (isoforms 1, 2, 3, 8), class II HDACs (isoforms 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10), class III HDACs (the sirtuins), and HDAC11 [Gregoretti et al., 2004; Weichert, 2009; Barneda-Zahonero and Parra, 2012]. HDACs 1, 2, and 3 are ubiquitously expressed, whereas HDAC8 is predominantly expressed in cells with smooth muscle/myoepithelial differentiation [Weichert, 2009]. HDAC6 is not observed to be expressed in lymphocytes, stromal cells, and vascular endothelial cells [Weichert, 2009]. Class III HDACs, sirtuins, are widely expressed and localized in different cellular compartments [Barneda-Zahonero and Parra, 2012]. SirT1 is highly expressed in testis, thymus, and multiple types of germ cells [Bell et al., 2014]. HDAC11 expression is enriched in the kidney, brain, testis, heart, and skeletal muscle [Barneda-Zahonero and Parra, 2012]. The members of classes 1, 2, and 4 are dependent on a zinc ion and a water molecule at their active sites, for their deacetylase function. The Sirtuins of class 3 depend on NAD+ and are considered impervious to most known HDAC inhibitors [Drummond et al., 2005].

Several structurally distinct groups of compounds have been found to inhibit HDACs of class 1, 2, and 4, among others short-chain fatty acids (e.g. butyrate and VPA), hydroxamic acids (e.g. TSA and SAHA), and epoxyketones (e.g. Trapoxin) [Drummond et al., 2005]. The hydroxamic acids seem to exert their inhibitory action by mimicking the acetyl-lysine target of HDACs, chelating the zinc ion in the active site, and displacing the water molecule [Finnin et al., 1999]. Several high-resolution crystal structures support this mode of inhibition [Decroos et al., 2015; Luckhurst et al., 2016]. The mode of inhibition of epoxyketones seems to function in the formation of a stable transition state analog with the zinc ion in the active site [Porter and Christianson, 2017]. The inhibitory actions of the short-chain fatty acids are less well defined, but it has been speculated that VPA blocks access to the binding pocket [Göttlicher et al., 2001]. It has been shown that VPA exerts similar gene regulatory effects to TSA, on a panel of migration-related transcripts in neural crest cells [Dreser et al., 2015], supporting a mode of action similar to hydroxamic-acid type HDAC inhibitors. Some in silico methods including molecular modeling, virtual screening, and molecular dynamics are used to find the common HDAC inhibitor structures [Huang et al., 2016; Yanuar et al. 2016].

How It Is Measured or Detected

A description of the type(s) of measurements that can be employed to evaluate the KE and the relative level of scientific confidence in those measurements.These can range from citation of specific validated test guidelines, citation of specific methods published in the peer reviewed literature, or outlines of a general protocol or approach (e.g., a protein may be measured by ELISA). Do not provide detailed protocols. More help

The measurement of HDAC inhibition monitors changes in histone acetylation. HDAC inhibition can be detected directly by the measurement of HDAC activity using commercially available colorimetric or fluorimetric kits or indirectly by the increase of histone acetylation as the detection of global histone acetylation changes by Western blot or mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics methods or as detection of site-specific histone acetylation changes using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) or ChIP-on-Chip. The measurement methods include the immunological detection of histone acetylation with anti-acetylated histone antibodies [Richon et al., 2004]. The histones are isolated from pellets of cells treated with HDIs, followed by acid-urea-triton gel electrophoresis, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry [Richon et al., 2003]. The HDAC activity is measured directly with ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-ESI-MS/MS) by calculating the ratio of deacetylated peptide and acetylated peptide [Zwick et al., 2016]. HDAC inhibition can be predicted by perturbations in gene expression patterns as well; an 81-gene transcriptomic biomarker of HDAC inhibition, called TGx-HDACi, has shown to accurately predict HDAC inhibition after 4 hour exposures to HDI in TK6 human lymphoblastoid cells [Cho et al., 2021].   

Domain of Applicability

A description of the scientific basis for the indicated domains of applicability and the WoE calls (if provided).  More help

The inhibition of HDAC by HDIs is well conserved between species from lower organisms to mammals.

  • HDAC inhibition restores the rate of resorption of subretinal blebs in hyperglycemia in brown Norway rat and HDAC activity was inhibited with HDIs in human ARPE19 cells [Desjardins et al., 2016].
  • Treatment of HDIs inducing HDAC inhibition showed anti-tumor effects in human non-small cell lung cancer cells [Ansari et al., 2016; Miyanaga et al., 2008].
  • HDAC acetylation level was increased by HDIs in the MRL-lpr/lpr murine model of lupus splenocytes [Mishra et al., 2003].
  • SAHA increased histone acetylation in the brain and spleen of mice [Hockly et al., 2003].
  • MAA inhibits HDAC activity in HeLa cells and spleens from C57BL/6 mice [Jansen et al., 2004].
  • It is also reported that MAA inhibits HDAC activity in testis cytosolic and nuclear extract of juvenile rats (27 days old) [Wade et al., 2008].
  • VPA and TSA inhibit HDAC enzymatic activity in the mouse embryo and human HeLa cell nuclear extract [Di Renzo et al., 2007].
  • The treatment with HDAC inhibitors, phenylbutyrate (PB) (2 mM) and TSA (200 nM), inhibits HDAC in adjuvant arthritis synovial cells derived from rats, causing higher acetylated histone [Chung et al., 2003].


List of the literature that was cited for this KE description. More help

Ansari, J. et al. (2016), "Epigenetics in non-small cell lung cancer: from basics to therapeutics", Transl Lung Cancer Res 5:155-171

Barneda-Zahonero, B. and Parra, M. (2012), "Histone deacetylases and cancer", Mol Oncol 6:579-589

Bell, E.L. et al. (2014), "SirT1 is required in the male germ cell for differentiation and fecundity in mice", Development 141:3495-3504

Cho, E. et al. (2021), "Development and validation of the TGx-HDACi transcriptomic biomarker to detect histone deacetylase inhibitors in human TK6 cells", Arch Toxicol 95:1631–1645

Chung, Y.L. et al. (2003), "A therapeutic strategy uses histone deacetylase inhibitors to modulate the expression of genes involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis", Mol Ther 8:707-717

Damaskos, C. et al. (2016), "Histone deacetylase inhibitors: a novel therapeutic weapon against medullary thyroid cancer?", Anticancer Res 36:5019-5024

Damaskos, C. et al. (2017), "Histone deacetylase inhibitors: an attractive therapeutic strategy against breast cancer", Anticancer Research 37:35-46

Decroos, C. et al. (2015), "Biochemical and structural characterization of HDAC8 mutants associated with cornelia de lange syndrome spectrum disorders", Biochemistry 54:6501–6513

Desjardins, D. et al. (2016), "Histone deacetylase inhibition restores retinal pigment epithelium function in hyperglycemia", PLoS ONE 11:e0162596

Di Renzo, F. et al. (2007), "Boric acid inhibits embryonic histone deacetylases: A suggested mechanism to explain boric acid-related teratogenicity", Toxicol and Appl Pharmacol 220:178-185

Dreser, N. et al. (2015), "Grouping of histone deacetylase inhibitors and other toxicants disturbing neural crest migration by transcriptional profiling", Neurotoxicology 50:56–70

Drummond, D.C. et al. (2005), "Clinical development of histone deacetylase inhibitors as anticancer agents", Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol 45:495–528

Finnin, M.S. et al. (1999), "Structures of a histone deacetylase homologue bound to the TSA and SAHA inhibitors", Nature 401:188–193

Göttlicher, M. et al. (2001), "Valproic acid defines a novel class of HDAC inhibitors inducing differentiation of transformed cells", EMBO J 20:6969–6978

Gregoretti, I.V. et al. (2004), "Molecular evolution of the histone deacetylase family: functional implications of phylogenetic analysis", J Mol Biol 338:17–31

Hockly, E. et al. (2003), "Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, ameliorates motor deficits in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease", Proc Nat Acad Sci 100:2041-2046

Hu, E. et al. (2003), "Identification of novel isoform-selective inhibitors within class I histone deacetylases", J Pharmacol Exp Ther 307:720-728

Huang, Y.X. et al. (2016), "Virtual screening and experimental validation of novel histone deacetylase inhibitors", BMC Pharmacol Toxicol 17(1):32

Jansen, M.S. et al. (2014), "Short-chain fatty acids enhance nuclear receptor activity through mitogen-activated protein kinase activation and histone deacetylase inhibition", Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101(18):7199-7204

Luckhurst, C.A. et al. (2016), "Potent, Selective, and CNS-Penetrant Tetrasubstituted Cyclopropane Class IIa Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) Inhibitors", ACS Med Chem Lett 7:34–39

Mishra, N. et al. (2003), "Histone deacetylase inhibitors modulate renal disease in the MRL-lpr/lpr mouse", J Clin Invest 111:539-552

Miyanaga, A. et al. (2008), "Antitumor activity of histone deacetylase inhibitors in non-small cell lung cancer cells: development of a molecular predictive model", Mol Cancer Ther 7:1923-1930

Ooi, J.Y.Y., et al. (2015), “HDAC inhibition attenuates cardiac hypertrophy by acetylation and deacetylation of target genes”, Epigenetics 10:418-430

Park M.J. and Sohrabi F. (2016), “The histone deacetylase inhibitor, sodium butyrate, exhibits neuroprotective effects for ischemic stroke in middle-aged female rats”, J Neuroinflammation 13:300

Porter, N.J., and Christianson, D.W. (2017), "Binding of the microbial cyclic tetrapeptide trapoxin A to the Class I histone deacetylase HDAC8", ACS Chem Biol 12:2281–2286

Richon, V.M. et al. (2003), "Histone deacetylase inhibitors: assays to assess effectiveness in vitro and in vivo", Methods Enzymol. 376:199-205

Ropero, S. and Esteller, M. (2007), "The role of histone deacetylases (HDACs) in human cancer", Mol Oncol 1:19-25

Sekhavat, A. et al. (2007), "Competitive inhibition of histone deacetylase activity by trichostatin A and butyrate", Biochemistry and Cell Biology 85:751-758

Taunton, J. et al. (1996), "A mammalian histone deacetylase related to the Yeast transcriptional regulator Rpd3p", Science 272:408-411

Villar-Garea, A. and Esteller, M. (2004), "Histone deacetylase inhibitors: understanding a new wave of anticancer agents", Int J Cancer 112:171-178

Wade, M.G. et al. (2008), "Methoxyacetic acid-induced spermatocyte death is associated with histone hyperacetylation in rats", Biol Reprod 78:822-831

Wagner F.F. et al. (2015), “Kinetically selective inhibitors of histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) as cognition enhances”, Chem Sci 6:804

Weichert, W. (2009) "HDAC expression and clinical prognosis in human malignancies", Cancer Letters 280:168-176

Yanuar, A. et al. (2016), "In silico approach to finding new active compounds from histone deacetylase (HDAC) family", Curr Pharm Des 22:3488-3497

Zwick, V. et al. (2016), "Cell-based multi-substrate assay coupled to UHPLC-ESI-MS/MS for a quick identification of class-specific HDAC inhibitors", J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem 31:209-214