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J Biol Chem. 2003 Mar 21;278(12):10374-80. Epub 2003 Jan 15.

p21-activated protein kinase 4 (PAK4) interacts with the keratinocyte growth factor receptor and participates in keratinocyte growth factor-mediated inhibition of oxidant-induced cell death.

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Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


Keratinocyte growth factor (KGF), a member of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family (also known as FGF-7), is an important protective factor for epithelial cells. The receptor for KGF (also called FGFR2-IIIb), which has intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity, is expressed specifically on epithelial cells and in the lung epithelium. Administration of KGF has been shown to protect the lung from various insults, but the mechanism of protection is not well understood. To understand the mechanism by which KGF exerts protective functions on epithelial cells, we used the yeast two-hybrid assay to identify proteins that interact with the KGF receptor (KGFR). Here we show that the cytoplasmic domain of KGFR interacts with p21-activated protein kinase (PAK) 4, which is a new member of the PAK family. The PAKs are regulated by the Rho-family GTPases Rac and Cdc42. PAK4 is the most divergent member of the PAK family of proteins and may have distinct functions. However, stimuli that regulate PAK4 activity are not known. Our data show that PAK4 can associate with the KGFR, which is dependent on KGFR tyrosine kinase activity. We show that a dominant negative mutant of PAK4 blocks KGF-mediated inhibition of caspase-3 activation in epithelial cells subjected to oxidant stress. Our data demonstrate that PAK4 is an important mediator of the anti-apoptotic effects of KGF on epithelial cells.

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