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J Cell Biol. 2010 Jun 14;189(6):955-65. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200912094. Epub 2010 Jun 7.

Role of kinase-independent and -dependent functions of FAK in endothelial cell survival and barrier function during embryonic development.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is essential for vascular development as endothelial cell (EC)-specific knockout of FAK (conditional FAK knockout [CFKO] mice) leads to embryonic lethality. In this study, we report the differential kinase-independent and -dependent functions of FAK in vascular development by creating and analyzing an EC-specific FAK kinase-defective (KD) mutant knockin (conditional FAK knockin [CFKI]) mouse model. CFKI embryos showed apparently normal development through embryonic day (E) 13.5, whereas the majority of CFKO embryos died at the same stage. Expression of KD FAK reversed increased EC apoptosis observed with FAK deletion in embryos and in vitro through suppression of up-regulated p21. However, vessel dilation and defective angiogenesis of CFKO embryos were not rescued in CFKI embryos. ECs without FAK or expressing KD FAK showed increased permeability, abnormal distribution of vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin), and reduced VE-cadherin Y658 phosphorylation. Together, our data suggest that kinase-independent functions of FAK can support EC survival in vascular development through E13.5 but are insufficient for maintaining EC function to allow for completion of embryogenesis.

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