Elevated expression of β4-galactosyltransferase (β4GalT) 3 is correlated with poor clinical outcome of neuroblastoma patients. Our recent study has revealed that the transcription of the β4GalT3 gene is activated by Specificity protein (Sp) 3 in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cell line. Here we report the biological significance of the Sp3 phosphorylation in the transcriptional activation of the β4GalT3 gene. The treatment of SH-SY5Y cells with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) increased the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling and the promoter activity of the β4GalT3 gene. Meanwhile, the treatment with U0126, an inhibitor for MAPK kinase, decreased the MAPK signaling and the promoter activity. These findings indicate that the transcriptional activation of the β4GalT3 gene is mediated by the MAPK signaling. In SH-SY5Y cells cultured in the medium containing 10% FBS, the serine (Ser) residues in Sp3 were phosphorylated. Human Sp3 contains four Ser residues, Ser73, Ser563, Ser566, and Ser646, as the putative phosphorylation sites. Sp3 mutant with the mutation of Ser73 did not decrease the promoter activation of the β4GalT3 gene, indicating that Ser73 is uninvolved in the promoter activation of the β4GalT3 gene by Sp3. In contrast, Sp3 mutants with the mutations of Ser563, Ser566, and Ser646 significantly reduced the promoter activation by Sp3. The results suggest that the phosphorylation of these Ser residues is implicated in the promoter activation by Sp3. This study demonstrates that the phosphorylation of Sp3 plays important roles in the transcriptional activation of the β4GalT3 gene in human neuroblastoma.
Keywords: Specificity protein 3; neuroblastoma; phosphorylation; promoter activation; serine; β4-galactosyltransferase 3.