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Cell Cycle. 2006 Mar;5(5):478-80. Epub 2006 Mar 1.

Focal adhesion kinase signaling and the aggressive melanoma phenotype.

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  • 1Children's Memorial Research Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60614-3394, USA.


Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) mediates myriad cellular functions and has been found to be overexpressed in numerous human cancers. We recently explored the role of FAK in promoting the aggressive phenotype of melanoma cells, characterized by increased invasion, migration, and vasculogenic mimicry (VM) potential. We found FAK to be phosphorylated on its key tyrosine residues (397 and 576) in aggressive melanoma cells cultured on a three-dimensional type 1 collagen matrix in vitro, as well as in radial and vertical growth phase melanomas in situ. Furthermore, expressing FAK-related non-kinase (FRNK) in melanoma cells directly resulted in the inhibition of the aggressive phenotype, as demonstrated by decreased invasion, migration and VM potential, in part by blocking an Erk1/2 mediated signaling pathway. Additional data indicated that increased FAK activity may promote cellular proliferation and anchorage independent growth of aggressive melanoma. Together these observations implicate FAK as a promoter of the aggressive melanoma phenotype, thereby identifying a rational target for therapeutic intervention of malignant melanoma.

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