Anthrax lethal toxin (LeTx) is a cytotoxic virulence factor that causes cell cycle arrest and cell death in various cell types. However, susceptibility to the cytotoxic effects varies depending on cell types. In proliferating monocytes, LeTx has only transient cytotoxic effects due to activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT-mediated adaptive responses. To date, the mechanism of LeTx in activating PI3K-AKT signaling axis is unknown. This study shows that the histone deacetylase 8 (HDAC8) is involved in activating PI3K-AKT signaling axis through down-regulating the phosphatase and tensin homolog 1 (PTEN) in human monocytic THP-1 cells. The HDAC8-specific activator TM-2-51 and inhibitor PCI-34051 enhanced and prevented, respectively, AKT activation and cell cycle progression in LeTx-treated cells. Furthermore, HDAC8 induced tri-methylation of histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3), which is known to suppress PTEN expression, through at least in part down-regulating the H3K27me3 eraser Jumonji Domain Containing (JMJD) 3. Importantly, the JMJD3-specific inhibitor GSK-J4 induced AKT activation and protected cell cycle arrest in LeTx-treated cells, regardless the presence of HDAC8 activity. Collectively, this study for the first time demonstrated that HDAC8 activity determines susceptibility to cell cycle arrest induced by LeTx, through regulating the PI3K-PTEN-AKT signaling axis.
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