Antitumor effects of epidrug/IFNα combination driven by modulated gene signatures in both colorectal cancer and dendritic cells

Alessandra Fragale, Giulia Romagnoli, Valerio Licursi, Maria Buoncervello, Giorgia Del Vecchio, Caterina Giuliani, Stefania Parlato, Celeste Leone, Marta De Angelis, Irene Canini, Elena Toschi, Filippo Belardelli, Rodolfo Negri, Imerio Capone, Carlo Presutti, Lucia Gabriele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colorectal cancer results from the progressive accumulation of genetic and epigenetic alterations. IFN signaling defects play an important role in the carcinogenesis process, in which the inability of IFN transcription regulatory factors (IRF) to access regulatory sequences in IFN-stimulated genes (ISG) in tumors and in immune cells may be pivotal. We reported that low-dose combination of two FDA-approved epidrugs, azacytidine (A) and romidepsin (R), with IFNα2 (ARI) hampers the aggressiveness of both colorectal cancer metastatic and stem cells in vivo and triggers immunogenic cell death signals that stimulate dendritic cell (DC) function. Here, we investigated the molecular signals induced by ARI treatment and found that this drug combination increased the accessibility to regulatory sequences of ISGs and IRFs that were epigenetically silenced in both colorectal cancer cells and DCs. Likewise, specific ARI-induced histone methylation and acetylation changes marked epigenetically affected ISG promoters in both metastatic cancer cells and DCs. Analysis by ChIPseq confirmed such ARI-induced epigenetically regulated IFN signature. The activation of this signal endowed DCs with a marked migratory capability. Our results establish a direct correlation between reexpression of silenced ISGs by epigenetic control and ARI anticancer activity and provide new knowledge for the development of innovative combined therapeutic strategies for colorectal cancer. Cancer Immunol Res; 5(7); 604-16.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-616
Number of pages13
JournalCancer immunology research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cancer Research


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