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Epigenetic regulators of neuronal ferroptosis identify novel therapeutics for neurological diseases: HDACs, transglutaminases, and HIF prolyl hydroxylases

Orjon Rroji, Amit Kumar, Saravanan S Karuppagounder, Rajiv R Ratan
Year Published: 
Neurobiol Dis. 2021 Jan;147:105145. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2020.105145. Epub 2020 Oct 28.
PMID: 33127469 | DOI: 10.1016/j.nbd.2020.105145
Abstract on PubMed


A major thrust of our laboratory has been to identify how physiological stress is transduced into transcriptional responses that feed back to overcome the inciting stress or its consequences, thereby fostering survival and repair. To this end, we have adopted the use of an in vitro model of ferroptosis, a caspase-independent, but iron-dependent form of cell death (Dixon et al., 2012; Ratan, 2020). In this review, we highlight three distinct epigenetic targets that have evolved from our studies and which have been validated in vivo studies. In the first section, we discuss our studies of broad, pan-selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors in ferroptosis and how these studies led to the validation of HDAC inhibitors as candidate therapeutics in a host of disease models. In the second section, we discuss our studies that revealed a role for transglutaminase as an epigenetic modulator of proferroptotic pathways and how these studies set the stage for recent elucidation of monoamines as post-translation modifiers of histone function. In the final section, we discuss our studies of iron-, 2-oxoglutarate-, and oxygen-dependent dioxygenases and the role of one family of these enzymes, the HIF prolyl hydroxylases, in mediating transcriptional events necessary for ferroptosis in vitro and for dysfunction in a host of neurological conditions. Overall, our studies highlight the importance of epigenetic proteins in mediating prodeath and prosurvival responses to ferroptosis. Pharmacological agents that target these epigenetic proteins are showing robust beneficial effects in diverse rodent models of stroke, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.


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