Despite being extensively characterized structurally and biochemically, the functional role of histone deacetylase 8 (HDAC8) has remained largely obscure due in part to a lack of known cellular substrates. Herein, we describe an unbiased approach using chemical tools in conjunction with sophisticated proteomics methods to identify novel non-histone nuclear substrates of HDAC8, including the tumor suppressor ARID1A. These newly discovered substrates of HDAC8 are involved in diverse biological processes including mitosis, transcription, chromatin remodeling, and RNA splicing and may help guide therapeutic strategies that target the function of HDAC8.
Histone deacetylases catalyze the hydrolysis of an acetyl group from post-translationally modified acetyl-lysine residues in a wide variety of essential cellular proteins, including histones. Because these lysine modifications can alter the activity and properties of affected proteins, aberrant acetylation/deacetylation may contribute to disease states. Many fundamental questions regarding the substrate specificity and regulation of these enzymes have yet to be answered. Here, we optimize an enzyme-coupled assay to measure low micromolar concentrations of acetate, coupling acetate production to the formation of NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, reduced form) that is measured by changes in either absorbance or fluorescence. Using this assay, we measured the steady-state kinetics of peptides representing the H4 histone tail and demonstrate that a C-terminally conjugated methylcoumarin enhances the catalytic efficiency of deacetylation catalyzed by cobalt(II)-bound histone deacetylase 8 [Co(II)-HDAC8] compared with peptide substrates containing a C-terminal carboxylate, amide, and tryptophan by 50-, 2.8-, and 2.3-fold, respectively. This assay can be adapted for a high-throughput screening format to identify HDAC substrates and inhibitors.
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