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J Biol Chem. 2003 Mar 7;278(10):8083-90. Epub 2002 Dec 26.

The role of focal adhesion kinase-phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-akt signaling in hepatic stellate cell proliferation and type I collagen expression.

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Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599, USA.


Following a fibrogenic stimulus, the hepatic stellate cell (HSC) undergoes a complex activation process associated with increased cell proliferation and excess deposition of type I collagen. The focal adhesion kinase (FAK)-phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt signaling pathway is activated by platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) in several cell types. We investigated the role of the FAK-PI3K-Akt pathway in HSC activation. Inhibition of FAK activity blocked HSC migration, cell attachment, and PDGF-induced PI3K and Akt activation. Both serum- and PDGF-induced Akt phosphorylation was inhibited by LY294002, an inhibitor of PI3K. A constitutively active form of Akt stimulated HSC proliferation in serum-starved HSCs, whereas LY294002 and dominant-negative forms of Akt and FAK inhibited PDGF-induced proliferation. Transforming growth factor-beta, an inhibitor of HSC proliferation, did not block PDGF-induced Akt phosphorylation, suggesting that transforming growth factor-beta mediates its antiproliferative effect downstream of Akt. Expression of type I collagen protein and alpha1(I) collagen mRNA was increased by Akt activation and inhibited when PI3K activity was blocked. Therefore, FAK is important for HSC migration, cell attachment, and PDGF-induced cell proliferation. PI3K is positioned downstream of FAK. Signals for HSC proliferation are transduced through FAK, PI3K, and Akt. Finally, expression of type I collagen is regulated by the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway.

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