Focal adhesion kinase and p53 signaling in cancer cells

Int Rev Cytol. 2007;263:103-53. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7696(07)63003-4.


The progression of human cancer is characterized by a process of tumor cell motility, invasion, and metastasis to distant sites, requiring the cancer cells to be able to survive the apoptotic pressures of anchorage-independent conditions. One of the critical tyrosine kinases linked to these processes of tumor invasion and survival is the focal adhesion kinase (FAK). FAK was first isolated from human tumors, and FAK mRNA was found to be upregulated in invasive and metastatic human breast and colon cancer samples. Recently, the FAK promoter was cloned, and it has been found to contain p53-binding sites. p53 inhibits FAK transcription, and recent data show direct binding of FAK and p53 proteins in vitro and in vivo. The structure of FAK and p53, proteins interacting with FAK, and the role of FAK in tumorigenesis and FAK-p53-related therapy are reviewed. This review focuses on FAK signal transduction pathways, particularly on FAK and p53 signaling, revealing a new paradigm in cell biology, linking signaling from the extracellular matrix to the nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases