DOI: 10.1093/neuonc/noad155 ISSN:

Sirtuin 2 inhibition modulates chromatin landscapes genome-wide to induce senescence in ATRX-deficient malignant glioma

Prit Benny Malgulwar, Carla Danussi, Sharvari Dharmaiah, William Johnson, Anand Singh, Kunal Rai, Arvind Rao, Jason T Huse
  • Cancer Research
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Oncology



Functional inactivation of ATRX characterizes large subgroups of malignant gliomas in adults and children. ATRX deficiency in glioma induces widespread chromatin remodeling, driving transcriptional shifts and oncogenic phenotypes. Effective strategies to therapeutically target these broad epigenomic sequelae remain undeveloped.


We utilized integrated mulit-omics and the Broad Institute Connectivity Map (CMAP) to identify drug candidates that could potentially revert ATRX-deficient transcriptional changes. We then employed disease-relevant experimental models to evaluate functional phenotypes, coupling these studies with epigenomic profiling to elucidate molecular mechanism(s).


CMAP analysis and transcriptional/epigenomic profiling implicated the Class III HDAC Sirtuin2 (SIRT2) as a central mediator of ATRX-deficient cellular phenotypes and a driver of unfavorable prognosis in ATRX-deficient glioma. SIRT2 inhibitors reverted Atrx-deficient transcriptional signatures in murine neuroepithelial progenitor cells (mNPCs), impaired cell migration in Atrx/ATRX-deficient mNPCs and human glioma stem cells (GSCs), and increased expression of senescence markers in glioma models. Moreover, SIRT2 inhibition impaired growth and increased senescence in ATRX-deficient GSCs in vivo. These effects were accompanied by genome-wide shifts in enhancer-associated H3K27ac and H4K16ac marks, with the latter in particular demonstrating compelling transcriptional links to SIRT2-dependent phenotypic reversals. Motif analysis of these data identified the transcription factor KLF16 as a mediator of phenotype reversal in Atrx-deficient cells upon SIRT2 inhibition.


Our findings indicate that SIRT2 inhibition selectively targets ATRX-deficient gliomas for senescence through global chromatin remodeling, while demonstrating more broadly a viable approach to combat complex epigenetic rewiring in cancer.

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