Class IIa histone deacetylases (HDACs) repress cardiomyocyte hypertrophy through association with the prohypertrophic transcription factor (TF) myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2). The four class IIa HDACs — HDAC4, -5, -7, and -9 — are subject to signal-dependent phosphorylation by members of the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMK) group. In response to stress, HDAC4, HDAC5, and HDAC9 undergo phosphorylation-induced nuclear export in cardiomyocytes, freeing MEF2 to stimulate progrowth genes; it was generally assumed that HDAC7 is also antihypertrophic. However, in this issue of the JCI, Hsu and colleagues demonstrate that, in sharp contrast to the other class IIa HDACs, HDAC7 is constitutively localized to the cardiomyocyte cytoplasm, where it promotes cardiac hypertrophy. Phosphorylation of HDAC7 by the CaMK group member salt-inducible kinase 1 (SIK1) stabilized the deacetylase, leading to increased expression of c-Myc, which in turn stimulated a pathological gene program. These unexpected findings highlight the SIK1/HDAC7 signaling axis as a promising target for the treatment of cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure.


Joshua G. Travers, Tianjing Hu, Timothy A. McKinsey


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