The six serine/threonine kinases in the p21-activated kinase (PAK) family are important regulators of cell adhesion, motility and survival. PAK6, which is overexpressed in prostate cancer, was recently reported to localize to cell-cell adhesions and to drive epithelial cell colony escape. Here we report that PAK6 targeting to cell-cell adhesions occurs through its N-terminus, requiring both its Cdc42/Rac interactive binding (CRIB) domain and an adjacent polybasic region for maximal targeting efficiency. We find PAK6 localization to cell-cell adhesions is Cdc42-dependent, as Cdc42 knockdown inhibits PAK6 targeting to cell-cell adhesions. We further find the ability of PAK6 to drive epithelial cell colony escape requires kinase activity and is disrupted by mutations that perturb PAK6 cell-cell adhesion targeting. Finally, we demonstrate that all type II PAKs (PAK4, PAK5 and PAK6) target to cell-cell adhesions, albeit to differing extents, but PAK1 (a type I PAK) does not. Notably, the ability of a PAK isoform to drive epithelial colony escape correlates with its targeting to cell-cell adhesions. We conclude that PAKs have a broader role in the regulation of cell-cell adhesions than previously appreciated.
Keywords: Cdc42; Cell–cell adhesions; PAK6; p21-activated kinase.
© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.