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. 2010 Mar 28;289(2):127-39.
doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2009.07.005. Epub 2009 Jul 29.

Focal Adhesion Kinase: A Prominent Determinant in Breast Cancer Initiation, Progression and Metastasis

Free PMC article

Focal Adhesion Kinase: A Prominent Determinant in Breast Cancer Initiation, Progression and Metastasis

Ming Luo et al. Cancer Lett. .
Free PMC article


Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is an intracellular non-receptor tyrosine kinase. In addition to its role as a major mediator of signal transduction by integrins, FAK also participates in signaling by a wide range of extracellular stimuli including growth factors, G-protein-coupled receptor agonists, cytokines, and other inflammatory mediators. The link between FAK and breast cancers is strongly suggested by a number of reports showing that FAK gene is amplified and overexpressed in a large fraction of breast cancer specimens. In addition, increased FAK expression and activity frequently correlate with metastatic disease and poor prognosis. Since its discovery in early 1990s, numerous studies have shown a role for FAK in the regulation of cell spreading, adhesion, migration, survival, proliferation, differentiation, and angiogenesis. Many of these studies in cultured cells provided strong evidence to connect FAK expression/activation to the promotion of cancer. Recently, a prominent role of FAK in promoting mammary tumorigenesis, progression and metastasis has been unveiled by different animal models of human breast cancer, including xenograft models in immunodeficient rodents and spontaneous tumor models in transgenic mice that have specific deletion of FAK in the mammary epithelial cells during embryonic or postnatal development. These in vivo studies established FAK as a prominent determinant in mammary cancer initiation, progression and metastasis. Furthermore, a novel function of FAK in maintaining mammary cancer stem/progenitor cells in vivo has been recently reported, which may provide a novel cellular mechanism of FAK in promoting breast cancer initiation and progression. The wealth of knowledge accumulated over almost two decades of research on FAK should help to design potentially novel therapies for breast cancer.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest Statement

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Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Structural features of FAK and its residues involved in interaction with other proteins. FAK is composed of a central kinase domain flanked by a N-terminal FERM domain and a C-terminal region containing two proline-rich (PR1 and PR2) motifs and a FAT domain. Several known phosphorylation sites as well as residues or regions of FAK mediating association with some of its interacting-proteins are indicated in the diagram.

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