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Tumor vasculature is known to be more permeable than the vasculature found in healthy tissue, which in turn can lead to a more aggressive tumor phenotype and impair drug delivery into tumors. While the stiffening of the stroma surrounding solid tumors has been reported to increase vascular permeability, the mechanism of this process remains unclear. Here, we utilize an in vitro model of tumor stiffening, ex ovo culture, and a mouse model to investigate the molecular mechanism by which matrix stiffening alters endothelial barrier function. Our data indicate that the increased endothelial permeability caused by heightened matrix stiffness can be prevented by pharmaceutical inhibition of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) both in vitro and ex ovo. Matrix stiffness-mediated FAK activation determines Src localization to cell-cell junctions, which then induces increased vascular endothelial cadherin phosphorylation both in vitro and in vivo. Endothelial cells in stiff tumors have more activated Src and higher levels of phosphorylated vascular endothelial cadherin at adherens junctions compared to endothelial cells in more compliant tumors. Altogether, our data indicate that matrix stiffness regulates endothelial barrier integrity through FAK activity, providing one mechanism by which extracellular matrix stiffness regulates endothelial barrier function. Additionally, our work also provides further evidence that FAK is a promising potential target for cancer therapy because FAK plays a critical role in the regulation of endothelial barrier integrity.-Wang, W., Lollis, E. M., Bordeleau, F., Reinhart-King, C. A. Matrix stiffness regulates vascular integrity through focal adhesion kinase activity.
Cranial neural crest cells are a multipotent cell population that generate all the elements of the pharyngeal cartilage with differentiation into chondrocytes tightly regulated by temporal intracellular and extracellular cues. Here, we demonstrate a novel role for miR-27, a highly enriched microRNA in the pharyngeal arches, as a positive regulator of chondrogenesis. Knock down of miR-27 led to nearly complete loss of pharyngeal cartilage by attenuating proliferation and blocking differentiation of pre-chondrogenic cells. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a key regulator in integrin-mediated extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion and has been proposed to function as a negative regulator of chondrogenesis. We show that FAK is downregulated in the pharyngeal arches during chondrogenesis and is a direct target of miR-27. Suppressing the accumulation of FAK in miR-27 morphants partially rescued the severe pharyngeal cartilage defects observed upon knock down of miR-27. These data support a crucial role for miR-27 in promoting chondrogenic differentiation in the pharyngeal arches through regulation of FAK.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a common treatment strategy for neovascular eye disease, a major cause of vision loss in diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. However, the decline in clinical efficacy over time in many patients suggests that monotherapy of anti-VEGF protein therapeutics may benefit from adjunctive treatments. Our previous work has shown that through decreased activation of the cytoskeletal protein paxillin, growth factor-induced ischemic retinopathy in the murine oxygen-induced retinopathy model could be inhibited. In this study, we demonstrated that VEGF-dependent activation of the Src/FAK/paxillin signalsome is required for human retinal endothelial cell migration and proliferation. Specifically, the disruption of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and paxillin interactions using the small molecule JP-153 inhibited Src-dependent phosphorylation of paxillin (Y118) and downstream activation of Akt (S473), resulting in reduced migration and proliferation of retinal endothelial cells stimulated with VEGF. However, this effect did not prevent the initial activation of either Src or FAK. Furthermore, topical application of a JP-153-loaded microemulsion affected the hallmark features of pathologic retinal angiogenesis, reducing neovascular tuft formation and increased avascular area, in a dose-dependent manner. In conclusion, our results suggest that using small molecules to modulate the focal adhesion protein paxillin is an effective strategy for treating pathologic retinal neovascularization. To our knowledge, this is the first paradigm validating modulation of paxillin to inhibit angiogenesis. As such, we have identified and developed a novel class of small molecules aimed at targeting focal adhesion protein interactions that are essential for pathologic neovascularization in the eye.
Copyright © 2016 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
The geometry of the cleavage furrow during mitosis is often asymmetric in vivo and plays a critical role in stem cell differentiation and the relative positioning of daughter cells during development. Early observations of adhesive cell lines revealed asymmetry in the shape of the cleavage furrow, where the bottom (i.e., substrate attached side) of the cleavage furrow ingressed less than the top (i.e., unattached side). This data suggested substrate attachment could be regulating furrow ingression. Here we report a population of mitotic focal adhesions (FAs) controls the symmetry of the cleavage furrow. In single HeLa cells, stronger adhesion to the substrate directed less ingression from the bottom of the cell through a pathway including paxillin, focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and vinculin. Cell-cell contacts also direct ingression of the cleavage furrow in coordination with FAs in epithelial cells-MDCK-within monolayers and polarized cysts. In addition, mitotic FAs established 3D orientation of the mitotic spindle and the relative positioning of mother and daughter centrosomes. Therefore, our data reveals mitotic FAs as a key link between mitotic cell shape and spindle orientation, and may have important implications in our understanding stem cell homeostasis and tumorigenesis.
Integrins require an activation step prior to ligand binding and signaling. How talin and kindlin contribute to these events in non-hematopoietic cells is poorly understood. Here we report that fibroblasts lacking either talin or kindlin failed to activate β1 integrins, adhere to fibronectin (FN) or maintain their integrins in a high affinity conformation induced by Mn(2+). Despite compromised integrin activation and adhesion, Mn(2+) enabled talin- but not kindlin-deficient cells to initiate spreading on FN. This isotropic spreading was induced by the ability of kindlin to directly bind paxillin, which in turn bound focal adhesion kinase (FAK) resulting in FAK activation and the formation of lamellipodia. Our findings show that talin and kindlin cooperatively activate integrins leading to FN binding and adhesion, and that kindlin subsequently assembles an essential signaling node at newly formed adhesion sites in a talin-independent manner.
Neuregulin (Nrg)/ErbB and integrin signaling pathways are critical for the normal function of the embryonic and adult heart. Both systems activate several downstream signaling pathways, with different physiological outputs: cell survival, fibrosis, excitation-contraction coupling, myofilament structure, cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction. Activation of ErbB2 by Nrg1β in cardiomycytes or its overexpression in cancer cells induces phosphorylation of FAK (Focal Adhesion Kinase) at specific sites with modulation of survival, invasion and cell-cell contacts. FAK is also a critical mediator of integrin receptors, converting extracellular matrix alterations into intracellular signaling. Systemic FAK deletion is lethal and is associated with left ventricular non-compaction whereas cardiac restriction in adult hearts is well tolerated. Nevertheless, these hearts are more susceptible to stress conditions like trans-aortic constriction, hypertrophy, and ischemic injury. As FAK is both downstream and specifically activated by integrins and Nrg-1β, here we will explore the role of FAK in the heart as a protective factor and as possible mediator of the crosstalk between the ErbB and Integrin receptors. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Cardiomyocyte Biology: Cardiac Pathways of Differentiation, Metabolism and Contraction.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Viruses modulate the actin cytoskeleton at almost every step of their cellular journey from entry to egress. Cellular sensing of these cytoskeletal changes may function in the recognition of viral infection. Here we show that focal adhesion kinase (FAK), a focal adhesion localized tyrosine kinase that transmits signals between the extracellular matrix and the cytoplasm, serves as a RIG-I-like receptor antiviral signaling component by directing mitochondrial antiviral signaling adaptor (MAVS) activation. Cells deficient in FAK are highly susceptible to RNA virus infection and attenuated in antiviral signaling. We show that FAK interacts with MAVS at the mitochondrial membrane in a virus infection-dependent manner and potentiates MAVS-mediated signaling via a kinase-independent mechanism. A cysteine protease encoded by enteroviruses cleaves FAK to suppress its role in innate immune signaling. These findings suggest that FAK serves as a link between cytoskeletal perturbations that occur during virus infection and activation of innate immune signaling.
Copyright Â© 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The morphology of healthy podocyte foot processes is necessary for maintaining the characteristics of the kidney filtration barrier. In most forms of glomerular disease, abnormal filter barrier function results when podocytes undergo foot process spreading and retraction by remodeling their cytoskeletal architecture and intercellular junctions during a process known as effacement. The cell adhesion protein nephrin is necessary for establishing the morphology of the kidney podocyte in development by transducing from the specialized podocyte intercellular junction phosphorylation-mediated signals that regulate cytoskeletal dynamics. The present studies extend our understanding of nephrin function by showing that nephrin activation in cultured podocytes induced actin dynamics necessary for lamellipodial protrusion. This process required a PI3K-, Cas-, and Crk1/2-dependent signaling mechanism distinct from the previously described nephrin-Nck1/2 pathway necessary for assembly and polymerization of actin filaments. Our present findings also support the hypothesis that mechanisms governing lamellipodial protrusion in culture are similar to those used in vivo during foot process effacement in a subset of glomerular diseases. In mice, podocyte-specific deletion of Crk1/2 prevented foot process effacement in one model of podocyte injury and attenuated foot process effacement and associated proteinuria in a delayed fashion in a second model. In humans, focal adhesion kinase and Cas phosphorylation - markers of focal adhesion complex-mediated Crk-dependent signaling - was induced in minimal change disease and membranous nephropathy, but not focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Together, these observations suggest that activation of a Cas-Crk1/2-dependent complex is necessary for foot process effacement observed in distinct subsets of human glomerular diseases.
Crk-associated substrate (CAS) is a major tyrosine-phosphorylated protein in cells transformed by v-crk and v-src oncogenes and plays an important role in invasiveness of Src-transformed cells. A novel phosphorylation site on CAS, Tyr-12 (Y12) within the ligand-binding hydrophobic pocket of the CAS SH3 domain, was identified and found to be enriched in Src-transformed cells and invasive human carcinoma cells. To study the biological significance of CAS Y12 phosphorylation, phosphomimicking Y12E and nonphosphorylatable Y12F mutants of CAS were studied. The phosphomimicking mutation decreased interaction of the CAS SH3 domain with focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and PTP-PEST and reduced tyrosine phosphorylation of FAK. Live-cell imaging showed that green fluorescent protein-tagged CAS Y12E mutant is, in contrast to wild-type or Y12F CAS, excluded from focal adhesions but retains its localization to podosome-type adhesions. Expression of CAS-Y12F in cas-/- mouse embryonic fibroblasts resulted in hyperphosphorylation of the CAS substrate domain, and this was associated with slower turnover of focal adhesions and decreased cell migration. Moreover, expression of CAS Y12F in Src-transformed cells greatly decreased invasiveness when compared to wild-type CAS expression. These findings reveal an important role of CAS Y12 phosphorylation in the regulation of focal adhesion assembly, cell migration, and invasiveness of Src-transformed cells.
Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is the most aggressive subtype of lung cancer in its clinical behavior, with a 5-year overall survival as low as 5%. Despite years of research in the field, molecular determinants of SCLC behavior are still poorly understood, and this deficiency has translated into an absence of specific diagnostics and targeted therapeutics. We hypothesized that tumor DNA copy number alterations would allow the identification of molecular pathways involved in SCLC progression. Array comparative genomic hybridization was performed on DNA extracted from 46 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded SCLC tissue specimens. Genomic profiling of tumor and sex-matched control DNA allowed the identification of 70 regions of copy number gain and 55 regions of copy number loss. Using molecular pathway analysis, we found a strong enrichment in these regions of copy number alterations for 11 genes associated with the focal adhesion pathway. We verified these findings at the genomic, gene expression and protein level. Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK), one of the central genes represented in this pathway, was commonly expressed in SCLC tumors and constitutively phosphorylated in SCLC cell lines. Those were poorly adherent to most substrates but not to laminin-322. Inhibition of FAK phosphorylation at Tyr(397) by a small-molecule inhibitor, PF-573,228, induced a dose-dependent decrease of adhesion and an increase of spreading in SCLC cell lines on laminin-322. Cells that tended to spread also showed a decrease in focal adhesions, as demonstrated by a decreased vinculin expression. These results support the concept that pathway analysis of genes in regions of copy number alterations may uncover molecular mechanisms of disease progression and demonstrate a new role of FAK and associated adhesion pathways in SCLC. Further investigations of FAK at the functional level may lead to a better understanding of SCLC progression and may have therapeutic implications.