: Epigenetic therapy has been demonstrated to be a viable strategy for breast cancer treatment. In this study, we report the anti-tumor activity of a hydroxamate-based histone deacetylase (HDAC)8-selective inhibitor, HMC, in breast cancer cells. MTT assays showed that HMC inhibited cell viability of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells with IC50 values of 7.7 μM and 9.5 μM, respectively. HMC induced caspase-dependent apoptosis in MCF-7 cells, which was associated with its ability to modulate a series of cell survival-related signaling effectors, including Akt, mTOR, Bax, Mcl-1, and Bcl-2. Additionally, HMC was capable of activating PPARγ, which was accompanied by reduced expression of PPARγ target gene products, such as cyclin D1 and CDK6. HMC increased the production of ROS in MCF-7 cells, which could be partially reversed by the cotreatment with a ROS scavenger (N-acetylcysteine or glutathione). Furthermore, HMC induced autophagy, as characterized by the formation of acidic vesicular organelles and autophagic biomarkers including LC3B-II and Atg5. Notably, pharmacological blockade of autophagy by 3-MA or CQ could attenuate HMC-induced apoptosis, suggesting that autophagy played a self-protective role in HMC-induced cell death. Together, these data suggest the translational potential of HMC to be developed into a potential therapeutic agent for breast cancer therapy.
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