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Open Access Research

Thailandepsins are new small molecule class I HDAC inhibitors with potent cytotoxic activity in ovarian cancer cells: a preclinical study of epigenetic ovarian cancer therapy

Andrew J Wilson1, Yi-Qiang Cheng23 and Dineo Khabele14*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 21st Avenue South, B-1100 Medical Center North, Nashville, TN 37232, USA

2 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA

3 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA

4 Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 691 Preston Building, Nashville, TN 37232, USA

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Journal of Ovarian Research 2012, 5:12  doi:10.1186/1757-2215-5-12

Published: 24 April 2012



New treatment strategies are emerging to target DNA damage response pathways in ovarian cancer. Our group has previously shown that the class I biased HDAC inhibitor romidepsin (FK228) induces DNA damage response and has potent cytotoxic effects in ovarian cancer cells. Here, we investigated newly discovered HDAC inhibitors, thailandepsin A (TDP-A) and thailandepsin B (TDP-B), to determine the effects on cell viability, apoptosis and DNA damage response in ovarian cancer cells.


FK228, TDP-A and TDP-B were tested in five ovarian cancer cell lines. Cellular viability was measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assays. Immunofluorescence assays were used to assess activated caspase 3. Western blots were performed to detect protein expression of PARP cleavage, pH2AX, P-glycoprotein and tubulin acetylation.


Treatment with TDPs decreased cell viability at nanonomolar concentrations in four of the five ovarian cancer cell lines studied. Similar to FK228, both TDP compounds exerted minimal effects on NCI/ADR-RES ovarian cancer cells. Across the four cell lines sensitive to the TDPs, TDP-B consistently had a greater inhibitory effect than TDP-A on cell viability. TDP-B also had relatively greater effects on promoting cell apoptosis and induction of pH2AX (a mark of DNA damage response), than TDP-A. These antitumor effects of TDP-B were of similar magnitude to those induced by an equal concentration of FK228. Similar to FK228, the nanomolar concentrations of the TDPs had little effect on tubulin acetylation (a mark of class II HDAC6 inhibition).


The new small molecule HDAC inhibitors TDP-A and TDP-B are FK228 analogues that suppress cell viability and induce apoptosis at nanomolar drug concentrations. TDP-B showed the most similarity to the biological activity of FK228 with greater cytotoxic effects than TDP-A in vitro. Our results indicate that FK228-like small molecule class I HDAC-biased HDAC inhibitors have therapeutic potential for ovarian cancer.

HDAC inhibitors; Thailandepsins; Romidepsin; Ovarian cancer