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J Cell Biochem. 2009 Mar 1;106(4):714-28. doi: 10.1002/jcb.22067.

Loss of cell-cell contacts induces NF-kappaB via RhoA-mediated activation of protein kinase D1.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Biology, Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, Jacksonville, Florida 32224, USA.


Cell-cell contacts mediated by cadherins are known to inhibit the small Rho-GTPase RhoA. We here show that in epithelial cells the disruption of these cell-cell contacts as mediated by a calcium switch leads to actin re-organization and the activation of RhoA. We identified the serine/threonine kinase protein kinase D1 (PKD1) as a downstream target for RhoA in this pathway. After disruption of cell-cell contacts, PKD1 relayed RhoA activation to the induction of the transcription factor NF-kappaB. We found that a signaling complex composed of the kinases ROCK, novel protein kinase C (nPKC), and Src family kinases (SFKs) is upstream of PKD1 and crucial for RhoA-mediated NF-kappaB activation. In conclusion, our data suggest a previously undescribed signaling pathway of how RhoA is activated by loss of cell-cell adhesions and by which it mediates the activation of NF-kappaB. We propose that this pathway is of relevance for epithelial tumor cell biology, where loss of cell-cell contacts has been implicated in regulating cell survival and motility.

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