Research Papers:

BET inhibition in advanced cutaneous T cell lymphoma is synergistically potentiated by BCL2 inhibition or HDAC inhibition

Sa Rang Kim, Julia M. Lewis, Benoit M. Cyrenne, Patrick F. Monico, Fatima N. Mirza, Kacie R. Carlson, Francine M. Foss and Michael Girardi _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:29193-29207. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25670

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Sa Rang Kim1, Julia M. Lewis1, Benoit M. Cyrenne1, Patrick F. Monico1, Fatima N. Mirza1, Kacie R. Carlson1, Francine M. Foss2 and Michael Girardi1

1Department of Dermatology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA

2Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Medical Oncology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA

Correspondence to:

Michael Girardi, email: [email protected]

Keywords: CTCL; apoptosis; BET inhibition; HDAC inhibition

Received: April 30, 2018     Accepted: June 06, 2018     Published: June 26, 2018


While several systemic therapies are approved for cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL), a non-Hodgkin lymphoma of skin-homing T cells that may involve lymph nodes and peripheral blood in advanced stages, relapses are common. Mutational analysis of CTCL cells has revealed frequent amplification of the MYC oncogene, and bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) protein inhibitors have been shown to repress MYC expression in various malignancies. Towards a potential novel therapy, we thus sought to examine the effect of BET inhibition on CTCL cells in vitro. Each of the four tested BET inhibitors (JQ1, ABBV-075, I-BET762, CPI-0610) consistently induced dose-dependent decreases in viability of isolated patient-derived CTCL cells and established CTCL cell lines (MyLa, Sez4, HH, Hut78). This effect was synergistically potentiated by combination of BET inhibition with BCL2 inhibition (e.g. venetoclax) or histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition (e.g. vorinostat or romidepsin). There was also a marked increase in caspase 3/7 activation when JQ1 was combined with either vorinostat or romidepsin, confirming that the observed synergies are due in major part to induction of apoptosis. Furthermore, MYC and BCL2 expression were each synergistically repressed when CTCL cells were treated with JQ1 plus HDAC inhibitors, suggesting cooperative activities at the level of epigenetic regulation. Taken together, these data indicate that targeting BET proteins in CTCL represents a promising novel therapeutic strategy that may be substantially potentiated by combination with BCL2 or HDAC inhibition.

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