The synergistic combination of the farnesyl transferase inhibitor lonafarnib and paclitaxel enhances tubulin acetylation and requires a functional tubulin deacetylase
Alkyl and Aryl Transferases
Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
Farnesyl transferase (FT) inhibitors (FTI) are anticancer agents developed to target oncogenic Ras proteins by inhibiting Ras farnesylation. FTIs potently synergize with paclitaxel and other microtubule-stabilizing drugs; however, the mechanistic basis underlying this synergistic interaction remains elusive. Here we show that the FTI lonafarnib affects the microtubule cytoskeleton resulting in microtubule bundle formation, increased microtubule stabilization and acetylation, and suppression of microtubule dynamics. Notably, treatment with the combination of low doses of lonafarnib with paclitaxel markedly enhanced tubulin acetylation (a marker of microtubule stability) as compared with either drug alone. This synergistic effect correlated with FT inhibition and was accompanied by a synergistic increase in mitotic arrest and cell death. Mechanistically, we show that the combination of lonafarnib and paclitaxel inhibits the in vitro deacetylating activity of the only known tubulin deacetylase, histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6). In addition, the lonafarnib/taxane combination is synergistic only in cells lines expressing the wild-type HDAC6, but not a catalytic-mutant HDAC6, revealing that functional HDAC6 is required for the synergy of lonafarnib with taxanes. Furthermore, tubacin, a specific HDAC6 inhibitor, synergistically enhanced tubulin acetylation in combination with paclitaxel, similar to the combination of lonafarnib and paclitaxel. Taken together, these data suggest a relationship between FT inhibition, HDAC6 function, and cell death, providing insight into the putative molecular basis of the lonafarnib/taxane synergistic antiproliferative combination.