Background: Purinergic P2X7 receptors regulate proliferation, differentiation, and cell death in both the CNS and non-CNS tissues.
Results: Sp1 factor activates the P2rx7 promoter. This regulation is abolished by SP1 binding sites mutation, Sp1 knockdown, and mithramycin A treatment.
Conclusion: Sp1 regulates the expression of P2X7 receptor.
Significance: Learning how P2X7 expression is controlled is crucial for understanding P2X7-mediated brain processes in health and disease.
P2X7 receptors are involved not only in physiological functions but also in pathological brain processes. Although an increasing number of findings indicate that altered receptor expression has a causative role in neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, little is known about how expression of P2rx7 gene is controlled. Here we reported the first molecular and functional evidence that Specificity protein 1 (Sp1) transcription factor plays a pivotal role in the transcriptional regulation of P2X7 receptor. We delimited a minimal region in the murine P2rx7 promoter containing four SP1 sites, two of them being highly conserved in mammals. The functionality of these SP1 sites was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis and Sp1 overexpression/down-regulation in neuroblastoma cells. Inhibition of Sp1-mediated transcriptional activation by mithramycin A reduced endogenous P2X7 receptor levels in primary cultures of cortical neurons and astrocytes. Using P2rx7-EGFP transgenic mice that express enhanced green fluorescent protein under the control of P2rx7 promoter, we found a high correlation between reporter expression and Sp1 levels in the brain, demonstrating that Sp1 is a key element in the transcriptional regulation of P2X7 receptor in the nervous system. Finally, we found that Sp1 mediates P2X7 receptor up-regulation in neuroblastoma cells cultured in the absence of serum, a condition that enhances chromatin accessibility and facilitates the exposure of SP1 binding sites.