The histone acetyltransferase (HAT) enzymes p300 and CBP are closely related paralogs that serve as transcriptional coactivators and have been found to be dysregulated in cancer and other diseases. p300/CBP is a multidomain protein and possesses a highly conserved bromodomain that has been shown to bind acetylated Lys residues in both proteins and various small molecules, including I-CBP112 and CBP30. Here we show that the ligand I-CBP112 can stimulate nucleosome acetylation up to 3-fold while CBP30 does not. Activation of p300/CBP by I-CBP112 is not observed with the isolated histone H3 substrate but requires a nucleosome substrate. I-CBP112 does not impact nucleosome acetylation by the isolated p300 HAT domain, and the effects of I-CBP112 on p300/CBP can be neutralized by CBP30, suggesting that I-CBP112 likely allosterically activates p300/CBP through bromodomain interactions. Using mass spectrometry and Western blots, we have found that I-CBP112 particularly stimulates acetylation of Lys18 of histone H3 (H3K18) in nucleosomes, an established in vivo site of p300/CBP. In addition, we show that I-CBP112 enhances H3K18 acetylation in acute leukemia and prostate cancer cells in a concentration range commensurate with its antiproliferative effects. Our findings extend the known pharmacology of bromodomain ligands in the regulation of p300/CBP and suggest a novel approach to modulating histone acetylation in cancer.
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