Phosphatidylserine enhances IKBKAP transcription by activating the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway

Maya Donyo, Dror Hollander, Ziv Abramovitch, Shiran Naftelberg, Gil Ast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a genetic disorder manifested due to abnormal development and progressive degeneration of the sensory and autonomic nervous system. FD is caused by a point mutation in the IKBKAP gene encoding the IKAP protein, resulting in decreased protein levels.Apromising potential treatment for FD is phosphatidylserine (PS); however, the manner by which PS elevates IKAP levels has yet to be identified. Analysis of ChIP-seq results of the IKBKAP promoter region revealed binding of the transcription factors CREB and ELK1, which are regulated by the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/ extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway. We show that PS treatment enhanced ERK phosphorylation in cells derived from FD patients. ERK activation resulted in elevated IKBKAP transcription and IKAP protein levels, whereas pretreatment with the MAPK inhibitor U0126 blocked elevation of the IKAP protein level. Overexpression of either ELK1 or CREB activated the IKBKAP promoter, whereas downregulation of these transcription factors resulted in a decrease of the IKAP protein. Additionally,we showthat PS improves cell migration, knownto be enhanced by MAPK/ERK activation and abrogated in FD cells. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that PS activates the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway, resulting in activation of transcription factors that bind the promoter region of IKBKAP and thus enhancing its transcription. Therefore, compounds that activate the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway could constitute potential treatments for FD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1307-1317
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016


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