We demonstrated recently that expression of the UDP-N-acetyl-α-d-galactosamine: polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltrans-ferase-3 (GalNAc-T3) gene is restricted to epithelial glands [Nomoto, Izumi, Ise, Kato, Takano, Nagatani, Shibao, Ohta, Imamura, Kuwano, Matsuo, Yamada, Itoh and Kohno (1999) Cancer Res. 59, 6214–6222]. In the present study, we show that sodium butyrate treatment of human breast cancer MCF-7 cells transcriptionally activates the GalNAc-T3 gene. Transient transfection of plasmids containing a reporter gene under the control of GalNAc-T3 indicated that several transcriptional elements are involved in response to sodium butyrate, with the nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1)-binding motif located between −88 and −77nt being the most important. Incubation of a labelled probe encompassing the NRF-1-binding motif with a nuclear extract of sodium butyrate-treated MCF-7 cells yielded a higher level of specific DNA–protein complex versus controls. Flag-tagged NRF-1 expressed in MCF-7 cells can bind to the NRF-1-binding motif of the GalNAc-T3 promoter. Nuclear content of NRF-1 remained constant in MCF-7 cells treated with or without sodium butyrate. Moreover, NRF-1 interacts with and is acetylated by p300/CBP-associated factor (P/CAF). Acetylation of NRF-1 enhances DNA binding. Co-transfection of the GalNAc-T3 reporter plasmid with either NRF-1 or P/CAF expression plasmid resulted in the activation of the GalNAc-T3 promoter. These results indicate a correlation between acetylation of NRF-1 by P/CAF and the butyrate-induced expression of the GalNAc-T3 gene. Additionally, induced expression of P/CAF may be a component of the adenocarcinoma differentiation process.

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