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J Cell Biol. 2008 Jan 14;180(1):187-203. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200708194.

PyK2 and FAK connections to p190Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor regulate RhoA activity, focal adhesion formation, and cell motility.

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Department of Reproductive Medicine, Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Integrin binding to matrix proteins such as fibronectin (FN) leads to formation of focal adhesion (FA) cellular contact sites that regulate migration. RhoA GTPases facilitate FA formation, yet FA-associated RhoA-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) remain unknown. Here, we show that proline-rich kinase-2 (Pyk2) levels increase upon loss of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). Additionally, we demonstrate that Pyk2 facilitates deregulated RhoA activation, elevated FA formation, and enhanced cell proliferation by promoting p190RhoGEF expression. In normal MEFs, p190RhoGEF knockdown inhibits FN-associated RhoA activation, FA formation, and cell migration. Knockdown of p190RhoGEF-related GEFH1 does not affect FA formation in FAK(-/-) or normal MEFs. p190RhoGEF overexpression enhances RhoA activation and FA formation in MEFs dependent on FAK binding and associated with p190RhoGEF FA recruitment and tyrosine phosphorylation. These studies elucidate a compensatory function for Pyk2 upon FAK loss and identify the FAK-p190RhoGEF complex as an important integrin-proximal regulator of FA formation during FN-stimulated cell motility.

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