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IUBMB Life. 2002 Feb;53(2):115-9.

The focal adhesion kinase--a regulator of cell migration and invasion.

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Research Center for Infectious Diseases, W├╝rzburg, Germany.


Cell migration plays an important role in embryonic development, wound healing, immune responses, and in pathological phenomena such as tissue invasion and metastasis formation. In this review, we summarize recent reports that connect the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) to cell migration and invasion. FAK is a nonreceptor protein tyrosine kinase involved in signal transduction from integrin-enriched focal adhesion sites that mediate cell contact with the extracellular matrix. Multiple protein-protein interaction sites allow FAK to associate with adapter and structural proteins allowing for the modulation of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, stress-activated protein (SAP) kinases, and small GTPase activity. FAK-enhanced signals have been shown to mediate the survival of anchorage-dependent cells and are critical for efficient cell migration in response to growth factor receptor and integrin stimulation. Elevated expression of FAK in human tumors has been correlated with increased malignancy and invasiveness. Because recent findings show that FAK contributes to the secretion of matrix-metalloproteinases, FAK may represent an important checkpoint in coordinating the dynamic processes of cell motility and extracellular matrix remodeling during tumor cell invasion.

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