Thymoquinone and Difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) Synergistically Induce Apoptosis of Human Acute T Lymphoblastic Leukemia Jurkat Cells Through the Modulation of Epigenetic Pathways.
Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2020 Jan-Dec;19:1533033820947489. PMID: 32912061
Thymoquinone (TQ), a natural anticancer agent exerts cytotoxic effects on several tumors by targeting multiple pathways, including apoptosis. Difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), an irreversible inhibitor of the ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) enzyme, has shown promising inhibitory activities in many cancers including leukemia by decreasing the biosynthesis of the intracellular polyamines. The present study aimed to investigate the combinatorial cytotoxic effects of TQ and DFMO on human acute T lymphoblastic leukemia Jurkat cells and to determine the underlying mechanisms. Here, we show that the combination of DFMO and TQ significantly reduced cell viability and resulted in significant synergistic effects on apoptosis when compared to either DFMO or TQ alone. RNA-sequencing showed that many key epigenetic players including Ubiquitin-like containing PHD and Ring finger 1 (UHRF1) and its 2 partners DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) and histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) were down-regulated in DFMO-treated Jurkat cells. The combination of DFMO and TQ dramatically decreased the expression of UHRF1, DNMT1 and HDAC1 genes compared to either DFMO or TQ alone. UHRF1 knockdown led to a decrease in Jurkat cell viability. In conclusion, these results suggest that the combination of DFMO and TQ could be a promising new strategy for the treatment of human acute T lymphoblastic leukemia by targeting the epigenetic code.