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J Immunol. 2011 Feb 1;186(3):1656-65. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002093. Epub 2010 Dec 27.

Pyk2 is required for neutrophil degranulation and host defense responses to bacterial infection.

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  • 1Program in Immunology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


The appropriate regulation of neutrophil activation is critical for maintaining host defense and limiting inflammation. Polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) express a number of cytoplasmic tyrosine kinases that regulate signaling pathways leading to activation. One of the most highly expressed, but least studied, kinases in PMNs is proline rich kinase 2 (Pyk2). By analogy to the related focal adhesion kinase, Pyk2 has been implicated in regulating PMN adhesion and migration; however, its physiologic function has yet to be described. Using pyk2(-/-) mice, we found that this kinase was required for integrin-mediated degranulation responses, but was not involved in adhesion-induced cell spreading or activation of superoxide production. Pyk2-deficient PMNs also manifested reduced migration on fibrinogen-coated surfaces. The absence of Pyk2 resulted in a severe reduction in paxillin and Vav phosphorylation following integrin ligation, which likely accounts for the poor degranulation and cell migration. Pyk2(-/-) mice were unable to efficiently clear infection with Staphylococcus aureus in a skin abscess model, owing in part to the poor release of granule contents at the site of infection. However, Pyk2-deficient PMNs responded normally to soluble agonists, demonstrating that this kinase functions mainly in the integrin pathway. These data demonstrate the unrealized physiologic role of this kinase in regulating the adhesion-mediated release of PMN granule contents.

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