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Mol Pharmacol. 2009 Mar;75(3):658-66. doi: 10.1124/mol.108.052464. Epub 2008 Dec 19.

Quantification of focal adhesion kinase activation loop phosphorylation as a biomarker of Src activity.

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Department of Pharmacology, Centers for Cancer Pharmacology and Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6160, USA.


A recently developed stable isotope dilution liquid chromatography-multiple reaction/mass spectrometry method to quantify focal adhesion kinase (FAK) activation loop phosphorylation was used to study endogenous Src kinase activity. This revealed that bis-phosphorylated pTyr(576)/Tyr(577)-FAK was a biomarker of Src activity and inactivation in vitro and in cell culture. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) expressing endogenous Src family kinases contained 65% unmodified Tyr(576)/Tyr(577), 33% mono-phosphorylated-pTyr(576)-FAK, and 6% bis-phosphorylated-pTyr(576)/pTyr(577)-FAK. In contrast, MEFs expressing oncogenic Y(529)FSrc contained 38% unmodified Tyr(576)/Tyr(577)-FAK, 29% mono-phosphorylated-pTyr(576)-FAK, and 19% bis-phosphorylated-pTyr(576)/pTyr(577)-FAK. This new method has made it possible to accurately determine the absolute amounts of FAK phosphorylation that occur after Src inhibition in cell culture and in vitro with increasing concentrations of the Src inhibitor N-(5-chloro-1,3-benzodioxol-4-yl)-7-[2-(4-methylpiperazin-1-yl)ethoxy]-5-(tetrahydro-2H-pyran-4-yloxy)quinazolin-4-amine (AZD0530). Phosphorylation of FAK at Tyr(576)/Tyr(577) was inhibited by AZD0530 in a dose-dependent manner both in cell culture and in vitro. However, there was a substantial difference in the ability of AZD0530 to inhibit Src that was constitutively activated in a cellular context (IC(50) = 2.12 muM) compared with the isolated enzyme (IC(50) = 0.14 muM). When normal MEFs and Y(529)FSrc-expressing MEFs were treated with pervanadate (a global phosphatase inhibitor), pTyr(576)/pTyr(577)-FAK accounted for almost 60% of the total FAK present in the cells. This suggests that activation loop phosphorylation is regulated by tyrosine phosphatases. These results confirm that FAK phosphorylation is a useful biomarker of Src inhibition in vivo. The accuracy and specificity of stable isotope dilution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry methodology offers significant advantages over current immunochemical approaches for monitoring Src activity.

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