Tissue transglutaminase (TG2) is involved in the resistance of cancer cells to the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor vorinostat

Carmine Carbone, Elena Di Gennaro, Geny Piro, Maria Rita Milone, Biagio Pucci, Michele Caraglia, Alfredo Budillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vorinostat demonstrated preclinical and clinical efficacy in human cancers and is the first histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) approved for cancer treatment. Tissue transglutaminase (TG2) is a multifunctional enzyme that catalyzes a Ca2+ dependent transamidating reaction resulting in covalent cross-links between proteins. TG2 acts also as G-protein in trans-membrane signaling and as a cell surface adhesion mediator. TG2 up-regulation has been demonstrated in several cancers and its expression levels correlate with resistance to chemotherapy and metastatic potential. We demonstrated that the anti-proliferative effect of the HDACi vorinostat is paralleled by the induction of TG2 mRNA and protein expression in cancer cells but not in ex vivo treated peripheral blood lymphocytes. This effect was also shared by other pan-HDACi and resulted in increased TG2 transamidating activity. Notably, high TG2 basal levels in a panel of cancer cell lines correlated with lower vorinostat antiproliferative activity. Notably, in TG2-knockdown cancer cells vorinostat anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects were enhanced, whereas in TG2-full-length transfected cells were impaired, suggesting that TG2 could represent a mechanism of intrinsic or acquired resistance to vorinostat. In fact, co-treatment of tumor cells with inhibitors of TG2 transamidating activity potentiated the antitumor effect of vorinostat. Moreover, vorinostat-resistant MCF7 cells selected by stepwise increasing concentrations of the drug, significantly overexpressed TG2 protein compared to parental cells, and co-treatment of these cells with TG2 inhibitors reversed vorinostat-resistance. Taken together, our data demonstrated that TG2 is involved in the resistance of cancer cells to vorinostat, as well as to other HDACi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAmino Acids
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Cancer
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitors
  • Transglutaminase-2
  • Vorinostat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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