High focal adhesion kinase expression in invasive breast carcinomas is associated with an aggressive phenotype

Mod Pathol. 2005 Oct;18(10):1289-94. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3800424.


Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a protein tyrosine kinase expressed in invasive breast cancer that regulates antiapoptotic signaling. We have examined FAK expression by immunohistochemistry using anti-FAK 4.47 in breast tumor samples from a large population-based, case-control study of women participating in the University of North Carolina Breast Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE), Carolina Breast Cancer Study. In this population, 629 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections were stained for FAK and scored as high (3+ or 4+ intensity and > or = 90% positive cells) or otherwise. High FAK expression was associated with poor prognostic indicators including high mitotic index (>10 mitoses per 10 consecutive high-power fields), nuclear grade 3, architectural grade 3, estrogen and progesterone receptor negative, and HER-2/neu overexpressed using CB11 antibody. The association of high FAK expression with HER-2/neu overexpression lends further support that HER-2/neu and FAK collaborate to promote tumorigenesis. The presence of strong FAK expression in many high grade, estrogen- and progesterone-negative breast carcinomas indicates that FAK may be an attractive target for therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases