Neuropilin-2 regulates α6β1 integrin in the formation of focal adhesions and signaling

J Cell Sci. 2012 Jan 15;125(Pt 2):497-506. doi: 10.1242/jcs.094433. Epub 2012 Feb 2.


The neuropilins (NRPs) contribute to the function of cancer cells in their capacity as VEGF receptors. Given that NRP2 is induced in breast cancer and correlates with aggressive disease, we examined the role of NRP2 in regulating the interaction of breast cancer cells with the ECM. Using epithelial cells from breast tumors, we defined NRP2(high) and NRP2(low) populations that differed in integrin expression and adhesion to laminin. Specifically, the NRP2(high) population adhered more avidly to laminin and expressed high levels of the α6β1 integrin than the NRP2(low) population. The NRP2(high) population formed numerous focal adhesions on laminin that were not seen in the NRP2(low) population. These results were substantiated using breast carcinoma cell lines that express NRP2 and α6β1 integrin. Depletion experiments revealed that adhesive strength on laminin but not collagen is dependent on NRP2, and that VEGF is needed for adhesion on laminin. A specific interaction between NRP2 and α6β1 integrin was detected by co-immunoprecipitation. NRP2 is necessary for focal adhesion formation on laminin and for the association of α6β1 integrin with the cytoskeleton. NRP2 also facilitates α6β1-integrin-mediated activation of FAK and Src. Unexpectedly, we discovered that NRP2 is located in focal adhesions on laminin. The mechanism by which NRP2 regulates the interaction of α6β1 integrin with laminin to form focal adhesions involves PKC activation. Together, our data reveal a new VEGF-NRP2 signaling pathway that activates the α6β1 integrin and enables it to form focal adhesions and signal. This pathway is important in the pathogenesis of breast cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Focal Adhesions*
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha6beta1 / metabolism*
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Neuropilin-2 / metabolism*
  • Neuropilin-2 / physiology
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Integrin alpha6beta1
  • Laminin
  • Neuropilin-2
  • Protein Kinase C