Research Papers:

Specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 are non-oncogene addiction genes in cancer cells

Erik Hedrick, Yating Cheng, Un-Ho Jin, Kyounghyun Kim and Stephen Safe _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:22245-22256. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7925

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Erik Hedrick1, Yating Cheng1, Un-Ho Jin1, Kyounghyun Kim2, Stephen Safe1

1Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA

2Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA

Correspondence to:

Stephen Safe, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: Sp transcription factors, non-oncogene addiction, cancer

Received: January 07, 2016    Accepted: February 23, 2016    Published: March 05, 2016


Specificity protein (Sp) transcription factor (TF) Sp1 is overexpressed in multiple tumors and is a negative prognostic factor for patient survival. Sp1 and also Sp3 and Sp4 are highly expressed in cancer cells and in this study, we have used results of RNA interference (RNAi) to show that the three TFs individually play a role in the growth, survival and migration/invasion of breast, kidney, pancreatic, lung and colon cancer cell lines. Moreover, tumor growth in athymic nude mice bearing L3.6pL pancreatic cancer cells as xenografts were significantly decreased in cells depleted for Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 (combined) or Sp1 alone. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) of changes in gene expression in Panc1 pancreatic cancer cells after individual knockdown of Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 demonstrates that these TFs regulate genes and pathways that correlated with the functional responses observed after knockdown but also some genes and pathways that inversely correlated with the functional responses. However, causal IPA analysis which integrates all pathway-dependent changes in all genes strongly predicted that Sp1-, Sp3- and Sp4-regulated genes were associated with the pro-oncogenic activity. These functional and genomic results coupled with overexpression of Sp transcription factors in tumor vs. non-tumor tissues and decreased Sp1 expression with age indicate that Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 are non-oncogene addiction (NOA) genes and are attractive drug targets for individual and combined cancer chemotherapies.

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