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EMBO J. 2000 Jun 15;19(12):2911-23.

Active ERK/MAP kinase is targeted to newly forming cell-matrix adhesions by integrin engagement and v-Src.

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Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, CRC Beatson Laboratories, Garscube Estate, Switchback Road, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK.


Integrin engagement generates cellular signals leading to the recruitment of structural and signalling molecules which, in concert with rearrangements of the actin cytoskeleton, leads to the formation of focal adhesion complexes. Using antisera reactive either with total ERK or with phosphorylated/activated forms of ERK, in rat embryo fibroblasts and embryonic avian cells that express v-Src, we found that active ERK is targeted to newly forming focal adhesions after integrin engagement or activation of v-Src. UO126, an inhibitor of MAP kinase kinase 1 (MEK1), suppressed focal adhesion targeting of active ERK and cell spreading. Also, integrin engagement and v-Src induced myosin light chain kinase (MLCK)-dependent phosphorylation of myosin light chain downstream of the MEK/ERK pathway, and MLCK and myosin activities are required for the focal adhesion targeting of ERK. The translocation of active ERK to newly forming focal adhesions may direct specificity towards appropriate downstream targets that influence adhesion assembly. These findings support a role for ERK in the regulation of the adhesion/cytoskeletal network and provide an explanation for the role of ERK in cell motility.

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