Overexpression of focal adhesion kinase, a protein tyrosine kinase, in ovarian carcinoma

Cancer. 1999 Oct 15;86(8):1551-6. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0142(19991015)86:6<1551::aid-cncr23>3.0.co;2-p.


Background: Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a tyrosine kinase that is important to such key functions such as cell adhesion, motility, and invasion. A MEDLINE search of the years 1980-1998 found no previous reports of FAK expression in human ovarian carcinoma. The authors performed experiments to determine whether FAK expression is elevated in this disease.

Methods: Ten normal human ovarian tissue samples and 26 cancer samples from patients with Stage I-IV ovarian carcinoma were obtained. Two ovarian carcinoma cell lines were also analyzed. FAK expression was determined by Western blot analysis with the V39 anti-human FAK polyclonal antibody. The level of FAK protein expression was determined using densitometric scanning of the 125 kD band on autoradiographs of Western immunoblots.

Results: Serous cancers expressed fourfold-increased values of FAK relative to normal ovarian tissue (P < 0.0001), and nonserous adenocarcinomas expressed threefold- to fourfold-increased values of FAK (P < 0. 0006). Ovarian carcinoma cell lines also expressed increased values of FAK. With a cutoff of 40, an elevated FAK level was associated with a sensitivity of 93% and specificity of 100%. There was no significant difference in FAK expression with regard to grade or stage of tumor.

Conclusions: FAK is significantly overexpressed in ovarian carcinoma, implying that FAK may play an important role in ovarian carcinogenesis. FAK expression may be useful as a screening tool to identify newly developed disease or as a tumor marker in confirmed cases of epithelial ovarian carcinoma. FAK may also serve as a potential target for therapeutic disruption of ovarian carcinoma progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovary / enzymology
  • Ovary / pathology
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / enzymology


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • PTK2 protein, human