Prosaposin: a new player in cell death prevention of U937 monocytic cells

Exp Cell Res. 2004 Aug 1;298(1):38-47. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2004.04.011.


We report that prosaposin binds to U937 and is active as a protective factor on tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha)-induced cell death. The prosaposin-derived saposin C binds to U937 cells in a concentration-dependent manner, suggesting that prosaposin behaves similarly. Prosaposin binding induces U937 cell death prevention, reducing both necrosis and apoptosis. This effect was inhibited by mitogen-activated protein ERK kinase (MEK) and sphingosine kinase (SK) inhibitors, indicating that prosaposin prevents cell apoptosis by activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) and sphingosine kinase. Prosaposin led to rapid ERK phosphorylation in U937 cells as detected by anti-phospho-p44/42 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and anti-phosphotyrosine reactivity on ERK immunoprecipitates. It was partially prevented by apo B-100 and pertussis toxin (PT), suggesting that both lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) receptor and Go-coupled receptor may play a role in the prosaposin-triggered pathway. Moreover, sphingosine kinase activity was increased by prosaposin treatment as demonstrated by the enhanced intracellular formation of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S-1-P). The observation that the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor wortmannin prevented the prosaposin effect on cell apoptosis suggests that sphingosine kinase exerts its anti-apoptotic activity by the PI3K-Akt pathway. Thus, cell apoptosis prevention by prosaposin occurs through ERK phosphorylation and sphingosine kinase. The biological effect triggered by prosaposin might be extended to primary cells because it triggers Erk phosphorylation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). This is the first evidence of a biological effect consequent to a signal transduction pathway triggered by prosaposin in cells of non-neurological origin.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Lysophospholipids / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Monocytes / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Receptors, LDL / metabolism
  • Saposins
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Sphingosine / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology
  • U937 Cells


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Glycoproteins
  • LRP1B protein, human
  • Lysophospholipids
  • PSAP protein, human
  • Receptors, LDL
  • Saposins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • sphingosine kinase
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go
  • Sphingosine