Activation of FAK/PI3K/Rac1 signaling controls actin reorganization and inhibits cell motility in human cancer cells

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2007;20(6):977-86. doi: 10.1159/000110458.


We have recently identified a specific signaling pathway that regulates actin reorganization in malignant human breast and prostate epithelial cells associated with FAK, PI-3K and Rac1 activation. Here we report that this pathway operates in MCF7 cells upon activation of membrane androgen receptors (mAR). Stimulation of mAR by the non-permeable testosterone-BSA conjugate resulted in early actin reorganization documented by quantitative measurements of actin dynamics and morphological analysis of microfilament organization. This effect was regulated by early phosphorylation of FAK and subsequent PI-3K and Rac1 activation. The functional role of this pathway was further shown in A375 melanoma cells. Treatment with the opioid antagonist alpha(s1) casomorphin resulted in rapid and potent actin remodeling in A375 cells, regulated by rapid activation of the FAK/PI-3K/Rac1 signaling. Pretreatment of both cell lines with the specific PI-3K inhibitor wortmannin blocked actin reorganization. Interestingly, wound healing assays revealed that testosterone-BSA and alpha (s1) casomorphin significantly inhibited MCF7 and A375 cell motility respectively. These effects were abrogated through blockade of PI-3K signaling by wortmannin. The results presented here indicate that actin reorganization through FAK/PI3-K/Rac-1 activation operates in various human cancer cell systems supporting a functional role for FAK/PI-3K/Rac1/actin signaling in controlling cell motility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology
  • Androstadienes / pharmacology
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Caseins / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Movement* / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Female
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / enzymology
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Phosphotyrosine / metabolism
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction* / drug effects
  • Wortmannin
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*


  • Actins
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Androstadienes
  • Caseins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • alpha(S1)-casomorphin
  • Phosphotyrosine
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein
  • Wortmannin