Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Cancer Biology

Major Professor

Jiandong Chen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alvaro Monteiro, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kenneth Wright, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Douglas Cress, Ph.D.


Histone deacetylase, Sir2, EX-527, cell proliferation, colon cancer


The NAD-dependent deacetylase SIRT1 regulates several factors involved in stress response and cell survival but its function in cancer is largely unknown. Research suggests that SIRT1 influences several transcription factors and molecules that are important components of pathways often deregulated in cancer. Our experiments have shown that SIRT1 knock down by short hairpin RNA accelerates tumor xenograft formation by HCT116 colon cancer cells, whereas SIRT1 overexpression inhibits tumor formation. We have also found that, pharmacological inhibition of SIRT1 stimulates cell proliferation under conditions of growth factor deprivation suggesting a tumor suppressive function of SIRT1. Paradoxically, SIRT1 inhibition sensitizes the same cells to apoptosis by chemotherapeutic drugs. Immunohistochemical staining of a colon tumor microarray revealed high SIRT1 expression levels in normal colon mucosa and benign adenomas. SIRT1 overexpression was observed in nearly 25% of stage I/II/III colorectal adenocarcinomas but rarely found in advanced stage IV tumors. Furthermore, about 30% of carcinomas showed lower than normal SIRT1 expression. These results suggest a pleiotropic effect of SIRT1 in cancer, i.e., anti-proliferative as well as anti-apoptotic. Further experiments along these lines and examination of a larger patient cohort could provide a rationale for the use of SIRT1 activators and inhibitors in the prevention and treatment of cancer.