Osteopontin (OPN) is an extracellular glycosylated phosphoprotein that promotes cell adhesion by interacting with several integrin receptors. We previously reported that an OPN mutant lacking five O-glycosylation sites (Thr134/Thr138/Thr143/Thr147/Thr152) in the threonine/proline-rich region increased cell adhesion activity and phosphorylation compared with the wild type. However, the role of O-glycosylation in cell adhesion activity and phosphorylation of OPN remains to be clarified. Here, we show that site-specific O-glycosylation in the threonine/proline-rich region of OPN affects its cell adhesion activity and phosphorylation independently and/or synergistically. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we found that OPN mutants with substitution sets of Thr134/Thr138 or Thr143/Thr147/Thr152 had decreased and increased cell adhesion activity, respectively. In contrast, the introduction of a single mutation into the O-glycosylation sites had no effect on OPN cell adhesion activity. An adhesion assay using function-blocking antibodies against αvβ3 and β1 integrins, as well as αvβ3 integrin-overexpressing A549 cells, revealed that site-specific O-glycosylation affected the association of OPN with the two integrins. Phosphorylation analyses using phos-tag and LC–MS/MS indicated that phosphorylation levels and sites were influenced by the O-glycosylation status, although the number of O-glycosylation sites was not correlated with the phosphorylation level in OPN. Furthermore, a correlation analysis between phosphorylation level and cell adhesion activity in OPN mutants with the site-specific O-glycosylation showed that they were not always correlated. These results provide conclusive evidence of a novel regulatory mechanism of cell adhesion activity and phosphorylation of OPN by site-specific O-glycosylation.

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