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J Cell Sci. 2006 Jun 1;119(Pt 11):2269-81.

Myosin light chain kinase plays a role in the regulation of epithelial cell survival.

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  • 1Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724, USA.


Myosin II activation is essential for stress fiber and focal adhesion formation, and is implicated in integrin-mediated signaling events. In this study we investigated the role of acto-myosin contractility, and its main regulators, i.e. myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) and Rho-kinase (ROCK) in cell survival in normal and Ras-transformed MCF-10A epithelial cells. Treatment of cells with pharmacological inhibitors of MLCK (ML-7 and ML-9), or expression of dominant-negative MLCK, led to apoptosis in normal and transformed MCF-10A cells. By contrast, treatment of cells with a ROCK inhibitor (Y-27632) did not induce apoptosis in these cells. Apoptosis following inhibition of myosin II activation by MLCK is probably meditated through the death receptor pathway because expression of dominant-negative FADD blocked apoptosis. The apoptosis observed after MLCK inhibition is rescued by pre-treatment of cells with integrin-activating antibodies. In addition, this rescue of apoptosis is dependent on FAK activity, suggesting the participation of an integrin-dependent signaling pathway. These studies demonstrate a newly discovered role for MLCK in the generation of pro-survival signals in both untransformed and transformed epithelial cells and supports previous work suggesting distinct cellular roles for Rho-kinase- and MLCK-dependent regulation of myosin II.

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