Histone deacetylases play important biological roles well beyond the deacetylation of histone tails. In particular, HDAC6 is involved in multiple cellular processes such as apoptosis, cytoskeleton reorganization, and protein folding, affecting substrates such as ɑ-tubulin, Hsp90 and cortactin proteins. We have applied a biochemical enzymatic assay to measure the activity of HDAC6 on a set of candidate unlabeled peptides. These served for the calibration of a structure-based substrate prediction protocol, Rosetta FlexPepBind, previously used for the successful substrate prediction of HDAC8 and other enzymes. A proteome-wide screen of reported acetylation sites using our calibrated protocol together with the enzymatic assay provide new peptide substrates and avenues to novel potential functional regulatory roles of this promiscuous, multi-faceted enzyme. In particular, we propose novel regulatory roles of HDAC6 in tumorigenesis and cancer cell survival via the regulation of EGFR/Akt pathway activation. The calibration process and comparison of the results between HDAC6 and HDAC8 highlight structural differences that explain the established promiscuity of HDAC6.
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