Control of motile and invasive cell phenotypes by focal adhesion kinase

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Jul 5;1692(2-3):77-102. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2004.04.008.


Cell motility is stimulated by extracellular stimuli and initiated by intracellular signaling proteins that localize to sites of cell contact with the extracellular matrix termed focal contacts. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is an intracellular protein-tyrosine kinase (PTK) that acts to regulate the cycle of focal contact formation and disassembly required for efficient cell movement. FAK is activated by a variety of cell surface receptors and transmits signals to a range of targets. Thus, FAK acts as an integrator of cell motility-associated signaling events. We will review the stimulatory and regulatory mechanisms of FAK activation, the different signaling connections of FAK that are mediated by a growing number of FAK-interacting proteins, and the modulation of FAK function by tyrosine and serine phosphorylation. We will also summarize findings with regard to FAK function in vertebrate and invertebrate development as well as recent insights into the mechanistic role(s) of FAK in promoting cell migration. As increased FAK expression and tyrosine phosphorylation have been correlated with the progression to an invasive cell phenotype, there is growing interest in elucidating the important FAK-related signaling connections promoting invasive tumor cell movement. To this end, we will discuss the effects of FAK inhibition via the dominant-negative expression of the FAK C-terminal domain termed FAK-related non-kinase (FRNK) and how these studies have uncovered a distinct role for FAK in promoting cell invasion that may differ from its role in promoting cell motility.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Fibroblasts / chemistry
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Focal Adhesions / chemistry
  • Focal Adhesions / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Phenotype
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / chemistry
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • FAK-related nonkinase
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • PTK2 protein, human