Histone deacetylases (HDAC) and histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) have greatly impacted the war on cancer. Their role in epigenetics has significantly altered the development of anticancer drugs used to treat the most rare, persistent forms of cancer. During transcription, HDAC and HDACi are used to regulate the genetic mutations found in cancerous cells by removing and/or preventing the removal of the acetyl group on specific histones. This activity determines the relaxed or condensed conformation of the nucleosome, changing the accessibility zones for transcription factors. These modifications lead to other biological processes for the cell, including cell cycle progression, proliferation, and differentiation. Each HDAC and HDACi class or group has a distinctive mechanism of action that can be utilized to halt the progression of cancerous cell growth. While the use of HDAC- and HDACi-derived compounds are relatively new in treatment of cancers, they have a proven efficacy when the appropriately utilized. This following manuscript highlights the mechanisms of action utilized by HDAC and HDACi in various cancer, their role in epigenetics, current drug manufacturers, and the impact predicative modeling systems have on cancer therapeutic drug discovery.
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