Date of Award

January 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)



First Advisor

Michael Girardi


Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) is a non-Hodgkin lymphoma of skin-homing, usually CD4+, malignant T cells that may involve lymph nodes and peripheral blood in advanced stages. Peripheral blood involvement portends a worse clinical outcome and while several systemic therapies are approved for CTCL, relapses are common. Mutational analysis of CTCL cells has revealed frequent amplification of the MYC oncogene, and bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) protein inhibitors have been shown to repress MYC expression in various malignancies. Towards a potential novel therapy, we thus sought to examine the effect of BET inhibition on CTCL cells in vitro by testing drug effects on CTCL cell viability, apoptosis induction, and gene expression. Each of the four tested BET inhibitors (JQ1, ABBV-075, I-BET762, CPI-0610) consistently induced dose-dependent decreases in viability of isolated patient-derived CTCL cells and established CTCL cell lines (MyLa, Sez4, HH, Hut78). This effect was synergistically potentiated by combination of BET inhibition with BCL2 inhibition (e.g. venetoclax) or histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition (e.g. vorinostat or romidepsin). There was also a marked increase in caspase 3/7 activation when JQ1 was combined with either vorinostat, or romidepsin, confirming that the observed synergies are due in major part to induction of apoptosis. Furthermore, MYC and BCL2 expression were each synergistically repressed when CTCL cells were treated with JQ1 plus HDAC inhibitors, suggesting cooperative activities at the level of epigenetic regulation. Taken together, these data indicate that targeting BET proteins in CTCL represents a promising novel therapeutic strategy that may be substantially potentiated by combination with BCL2 or HDAC inhibition.


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