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1.  Targeting the p53 Pathway 
Surgical oncology clinics of North America  2013;22(4):10.1016/j.soc.2013.06.003.
SYNOPSIS
This review summarizes data on translational studies to target the p53 pathway in cancer. It describes the functions of the p53 and Mdm-2 signaling pathways and discusses current therapeutic approaches to target p53 pathways, including reactivation of p53. In addition, direct interaction and colocalization of the p53 and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) proteins in cancer cells have been demonstrated, and different approaches to target this interaction are reviewed. In summary, this is a broad review of p53 function as it relates to the diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of cancers.
doi:10.1016/j.soc.2013.06.003
PMCID: PMC3810242  PMID: 24012397
p53; Mdm-2; FAK; survival; apoptosis
2.  FAK inhibition with small molecule inhibitor Y15 decreases viability, clonogenicity, and cell attachment in thyroid cancer cell lines and synergizes with targeted therapeutics 
Oncotarget  2014;5(17):7945-7959.
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is up-regulated in thyroid cancer and small molecule FAK scaffolding inhibitor, Y15, was shown to decrease cancer growth in vitro and in vivo. We sought to test the effectiveness of Y15 in thyroid cancer cell lines, profile gene expression with Y15 compared with clinical trial FAK inhibitor PF-04554878, and use Y15 in novel drug combinations. Cell viability was decreased in a dose dependent manner in four thyroid cancer cell lines with Y15 and with higher doses in PF-04554878. Y397 FAK and total FAK were decreased with Y15 and decreased less with PF-04554878. Detachment and necrosis were increased in a dose-dependent manner in all cell lines with Y15. Clonogenicity was decreased in a dose-dependent manner for both Y15 and PF-04554878. We compared gene profiles between papillary thyroid cell lines, TPC1, BCPAP and K1, and 380, 109, and 74 genes were significantly >2-fold changed with Y15 treatment, respectively. Common up-regulated genes were involved in apoptosis, cell cycle, transcription and heat shock; down-regulated genes were involved in cell cycle, cell-to-cell interactions, and cancer stem cell markers. We also compared gene profiles of TT cells treated with Y15 versus PF-04554878. Y15 caused 144 genes to change over 4 fold and PF-04554878 caused 208 gene changes >4-fold (p<0.05). Among genes changed 4 fold, 11 were shared between the treatments, including those involved in metabolism, cell cycle, migration and transcription. Y15 demonstrated synergy with PF-04554878 in TT cells and also synergy with Cabozantinib, Sorafenib, Pazopanib, and strong synergy with Sunitinib in resistant K1 cells. This report revealed the biological effect of Y15 inhibitor, detected the unique and common gene signature profiles in response to Y15 in 4 different thyroid cancer cell lines, demonstrated differential response changes with Y15 and PF-04554878 treatment, and showed the synergy of Y15 with PF-04554878, Cabozantinib, Sorafenib, Pazopanib, and Sunitinib.
PMCID: PMC4202172  PMID: 25277206
3.  High focal adhesion kinase expression in breast carcinoma is associated with lymphovascular invasion and triple-negative phenotype 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):769.
Background
Focal adhesion Kinase (FAK) is a nonreceptor protein tyrosine kinase that is overexpressed in tumors and plays a significant role in tumor survival and metastasis. The purpose of the study is to perform correlation of FAK expression with patient prognostic factors using tissue microarrays (TMA) samples.
Methods
We analyzed FAK expression by immunohistochemical staining in 196 breast primary tumor samples from stage II-IV patients and in 117 metastatic tissues matched to the primary tumors using TMA that were stained with FAK monoclonal antibody.
Results
High FAK expression in primary tumors was associated with a younger age of patients (p = 0.033), lymphovascular invasion (p = 0.001) and with the triple-negative phenotype (p = 0.033). FAK expression in 117 metastatic tissues positively correlated with FAK expression in matched primary tumors by Spearman correlation analysis. In addition, a strong positive correlation was observed between high FAK expression and shorter overall survival and progression free survival in patients with metastatic tumors.
Conclusions
The data demonstrate a high potential for FAK as a therapeutic target, especially in triple-negative breast cancer patients with high FAK expression.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-769
PMCID: PMC4213510  PMID: 25326692
FAK; Breast; TMA; Prognosis
4.  Pharmacological blockade of FAK autophosphorylation decreases human glioblastoma tumor growth and synergizes with temozolomide 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2012;12(2):162-172.
Malignant gliomas are characterized by aggressive tumor growth with a mean survival of 15–18 months and frequently developed resistance to temozolomide. Therefore, strategies that sensitize glioma cells to temozolomide have a high translational impact. We have studied focal adhesion kinase (FAK), a tyrosine kinase and emerging therapeutic target that is known to be highly expressed and activated in glioma. In this report we tested the FAK autophosphorylation inhibitor, Y15 in DBTRG and U87 glioblastoma cells. Y15 significantly decreased viability and clonogenicity in a dose-dependent manner, increased detachment in a dose and time-dependent manner, caused apoptosis and inhibited cell invasion in both cell lines. In addition, Y15 treatment decreased autophosphorylation of FAK in a dose-dependent manner and changed cell morphology by causing cell rounding in DBTRG and U87 cells. Administration of Y15 significantly decreased subcutaneous DBTRG tumor growth with decreased Y397-FAK autophosphorylation, activated caspase-3 and PARP. Y15 was administered in an orthotopic glioma model, leading to an increase in mouse survival. The combination of Y15 with temozolomide was more effective than either agent alone in decreasing viability and activating caspase-8 in DBTRG and U87 cells in vitro. In addition, the combination of Y15 and temozolomide synergistically blocked U87 brain tumor growth in vivo. Thus, pharmacologic blockade of FAK autophosphorylation with the oral administration of a small molecule inhibitor Y15 has a potential to be an effective therapy approach for glioblastoma either alone or in combination with chemotherapy agents such as temozolomide.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-12-0701
PMCID: PMC3570595  PMID: 23243059
Focal Adhesion Kinase; Y397 site; autophosphorylation; brain; glioblastoma
5.  The FAK scaffold inhibitor C4 disrupts FAK-VEGFR-3 signaling and inhibits pancreatic cancer growth 
Oncotarget  2013;4(10):1632-1646.
Even with successful surgical resection and perioperative chemotherapy and radiation, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) has a high incidence of recurrence. Tumor cell survival depends on activation of signaling pathways that suppress the apoptotic stimuli of invasion and metastasis. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a critical signaling molecule that has been implicated in tumor cell survival, invasion and metastasis. We have previously shown that FAK and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3) are overexpressed in cancer cells and physically interact to confer a significant survival advantage. We subsequently identified a novel small molecule inhibitor C4 that targeted the VEGFR-3-FAK site of interaction. In this study, we have shown that C4 disrupted the FAK-VEGFR-3 complexes in PDA cells. C4 treatment caused dose-dependent dephosphorylation and inactivation of the VEGFR-3 and FAK, reduction in cell viability and proliferation, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in PDA cells. C4 increased the sensitivity of tumor cells to gemcitabine chemotherapy in vitro that lead to apoptosis at nanomolar concentrations of both drugs. C4 reduced tumor growth in vivoin subcutaneous and orthotopic murine models of PDA. The drug alone at low dose, decreased tumor growth; however, concomitant administration with low dose of gemcitabine had significant synergistic effect and led to 70% tumor reduction. Combination of C4 with gemcitabine had a prolonged cytostatic effect on tumor growth after treatment withdrawal. Finally, we report an anecdotal case of stage IV pancreatic cancer treated with gemcitabine in combination with C4 that showed a significant clinical response in primary tumor and complete clinical response in liver metastasis over an eight month period. Taken together, these results demonstrate that targeting the scaffolding function of FAK with a small-molecule FAK-VEGFR-3 inhibitor can be an effective therapeutic strategy against PDA.
PMCID: PMC3858551  PMID: 24142503
FAK Scaffold Inhibitor; pancreatic cancer; FAK-VEGFR-3 interaction; protein-protein interaction
6.  A small molecule focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitor, targeting Y397 site: 1-(2-hydroxyethyl) -3, 5, 7-triaza-1-azoniatricyclo [3.3.1.13,7]decane; bromide effectively inhibits FAK autophosphorylation activity and decreases cancer cell viability, clonogenicity and tumor growth in vivo 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(5):1004-1013.
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a protein tyrosine kinase that is overexpressed in most solid types of tumors and plays an important role in the survival signaling. Recently, we have developed a novel computer modeling combined with a functional assay approach to target the main autophosphorylation site of FAK (Y397). Using these approaches, we identified 1-(2-hydroxyethyl)-3, 5, 7-triaza-1-azoniatricyclo [3.3.1.13,7]decane; bromide, called Y11, a small molecule inhibitor targeting Y397 site of FAK. Y11 significantly and specifically decreased FAK autophosphorylation, directly bound to the N-terminal domain of FAK. In addition, Y11 decreased Y397-FAK autophosphorylation, inhibited viability and clonogenicity of colon SW620 and breast BT474 cancer cells and increased detachment and apoptosis in vitro. Moreover, Y11 significantly decreased tumor growth in the colon cancer cell mouse xenograft model. Finally, tumors from the Y11-treated mice demonstrated decreased Y397-FAK autophosphorylation and activation of poly (ADP ribose) polymerase and caspase-3. Thus, targeting the major autophosphorylation site of FAK with Y11 inhibitor is critical for development of cancer therapeutics and carcinogenesis field.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgs120
PMCID: PMC3334519  PMID: 22402131
7.  Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 promotes breast cancer cell proliferation, motility and survival in vitro and tumor formation in vivo 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2009;8(14):2266-2280.
Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 is a receptor tyrosine kinase that is overexpressed in some human carcinomas, but its role in tumorigenesis has not been fully elucidated. We examined VEGFR-3 expression in normal, nonneoplastic and early stage malignant breast tissues and have shown that VEGFR-3 upregulation in breast cancer preceded tumor cell invasion, suggesting that VEGFR-3 may function as a survival signal. We characterized the biological effects of VEGFR-3 over-expression in human breast cancer cells based on two approaches: gain of function by overexpressing VEGFR-3 in MCF-7 breast cancer cells and loss of function by RNAi-mediated silencing of VEGFR-3 in MCF-7-VEGFR-3 and BT474 cells.
VEGFR-3 overexpression increased cellular proliferation by 40% when MCF7-VEGFR-3 cells were compared to parental MCF7 cells, and proliferation was reduced by more than 40% when endogenous VEGFR-3 was downregulated in BT474 cells. VEGFR-3 overexpression promoted a three-fold increase in motility and invasion and both motility and invasion were inhibited by downregulation of VEGFR-3. Furthermore, VEGFR-3 overexpression promoted cellular survival under stress conditions induced by staurosporine treatment and led to anchorage-independent growth.
VEGFR-3 overexpression dramatically increased tumor formation in both hormone-dependent and independent xenograft models. With estrogen stimulation, MCF7-VEGFR-3 xenografts were ten times larger than control xenografts. Finally, downregulation of VEGFR-3 expression in both xenograft model cell lines led to a significant reduction of tumor growth. For the first time, we have demonstrated that VEGFR-3 overexpression promotes breast cancer cell proliferation, motility, survival, anchorage-independent growth and tumorogenicity in the absence of ligand expression.
PMCID: PMC3619978  PMID: 19556880
vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3; VEGFR-3; Flt-4; receptor tyrosine kinases; breast cancer; tumorigenicity; carcinogenesis
8.  Gene Expression Profiling Identifies Important Genes Affected by R2 Compound Disrupting FAK and P53 Complex 
Cancers  2014;6(1):166-178.
Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) is a non-receptor kinase that plays an important role in many cellular processes: adhesion, proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis and survival. Recently, we have shown that Roslin 2 or R2 (1-benzyl-15,3,5,7-tetraazatricyclo[3.3.1.1~3,7~]decane) compound disrupts FAK and p53 proteins, activates p53 transcriptional activity, and blocks tumor growth. In this report we performed a microarray gene expression analysis of R2-treated HCT116 p53+/+ and p53−/− cells and detected 1484 genes that were significantly up- or down-regulated (p < 0.05) in HCT116 p53+/+ cells but not in p53−/− cells. Among up-regulated genes in HCT p53+/+ cells we detected critical p53 targets: Mdm-2, Noxa-1, and RIP1. Among down-regulated genes, Met, PLK2, KIF14, BIRC2 and other genes were identified. In addition, a combination of R2 compound with M13 compound that disrupts FAK and Mmd-2 complex or R2 and Nutlin-1 that disrupts Mdm-2 and p53 decreased clonogenicity of HCT116 p53+/+ colon cancer cells more significantly than each agent alone in a p53-dependent manner. Thus, the report detects gene expression profile in response to R2 treatment and demonstrates that the combination of drugs targeting FAK, Mdm-2, and p53 can be a novel therapy approach.
doi:10.3390/cancers6010166
PMCID: PMC3980603  PMID: 24452144
Focal Adhesion Kinase; p53; Mdm-2; Nutlin; gene expression profiling; microarrays; combination therapy
9.  MiR-138 and MiR-135 Directly Target Focal Adhesion Kinase, Inhibit Cell Invasion, and Increase Sensitivity to Chemotherapy in Cancer Cells 
Focal Adhesion Kinase is a 125 kDa non-receptor kinase and overexpressed in many types of tumors. Recently, short noncoding RNAs, called microRNAs have been discovered as regulators of gene expression mainly through binding to the untranslated region (UTR) of mRNA. In this report we show that MiR-138 and MiR-135 down-regulated FAK expression in cancer cells. MiR-138 and MiR-135 inhibited FAK protein expression in different cancer cell lines. The computer analysis of 3′FAK-untranslated region (FAK-UTR) identified one conserved MiR-138 binding site (CACCAGCA) at positions 3514-3521 and one conserved MiR-135 (AAGCCAU) binding site at positions 4278-4284 in the FAK-UTR. By a dual-luciferase assay we demonstrate that MiR-138 and MiR-135 directly bound the FAK untranslated region using FAK-UTR-Target (FAK-UTR) luciferase plasmid and inhibited its luciferase activity. The site-directed mutagenesis of the MiR-138 and MiR-135 binding sites in the FAK-UTR abrogated MiR-138 and MiR-135-directed inhibition of FAK-UTR. Real-time PCR demonstrated that cells transfected with MiR-138 and MiR-135 expressed decreased FAK mRNA levels. Moreover, stable expression of MiR-138 and MiR-135 in 293 and HeLa cells decreased cell invasion and increased sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), FAK inhibitor, Y15, and doxorubicin. In addition, MiR-138 significantly decreased 293 xenograft tumor growth in vivo. This is the first report on regulation of FAK expression by MiR-135 and MiR138 that affected invasion, drug sensitivity, and tumor growth in cancer cells, which is important to the development of FAK-targeted therapeutics and understanding their novel regulations and functions.
PMCID: PMC3883917  PMID: 23438844
Cancer; expression; Focal Adhesion Kinase; invasion; microRNA; tumor
10.  Disruption of the protein interaction between FAK and IGF-1R inhibits melanoma tumor growth 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(17):3250-3259.
FAK (focal adhesion kinase) and IGF-1R (insulin-like growth factor receptor-1) directly interact with each other and thereby activate crucial signaling pathways that benefit cancer cells. Inhibition of FAK and IGF-1R function has been shown to significantly decrease cancer cell proliferation and increase sensitivity to chemotherapy and radiation treatment. As a novel approach in human melanoma, we evaluated the effect of a small-molecule compound that disrupts the protein interaction of FAK and IGF-1R.
Previously, using virtual screening and functional testing, we identified a lead compound (INT2–31) that targets the known FAK-IGF-1R protein interaction site. We studied the ability of this compound to disrupt FAK-IGF-1R protein interactions, inhibit downstream signaling, decrease human melanoma cell proliferation, alter cell cycle progression, induce apoptosis and decrease tumor growth in vivo.
INT2–31 blocked the interaction of FAK and IGF-1R in vitro and in vivo in melanoma cells and tumor xenografts through precluding the activation of IRS-1, leading to reduced phosphorylation of AKT upon IGF-1 stimulation. As a result, INT2–31 significantly inhibited cell proliferation and viability (range 0.05–10 μM). More importantly, 15 mg/kg of INT2–31 given for 21 d via intraperitoneal injection disrupted the interaction of FAK and IGF-1R and effectively decreased phosphorylation of tumor AKT, resulting in significant melanoma tumor regression in vivo.
Our data suggest that the FAK-IGF-1R protein interaction is an important target, and disruption of this interaction with a novel small molecule (INT2–31) has potential anti-neoplastic therapeutic effects in human melanoma.
doi:10.4161/cc.21611
PMCID: PMC3466524  PMID: 22894899
small-molecule inhibitor; melanoma; FAK; IGF-1R
11.  Disruption of focal adhesion kinase and p53 interaction with small molecule compound R2 reactivated p53 and blocked tumor growth 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:342.
Background
Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) is a 125 kDa non-receptor kinase that plays a major role in cancer cell survival and metastasis.
Methods
We performed computer modeling of the p53 peptide containing the site of interaction with FAK, predicted the peptide structure and docked it into the three-dimensional structure of the N-terminal domain of FAK involved in the complex with p53. We screened small molecule compounds that targeted the site of the FAK-p53 interaction and identified compounds (called Roslins, or R compounds) docked in silico to this site.
Results
By different assays in isogenic HCT116p53+/+ and HCT116 p53-/- cells we identified a small molecule compound called Roslin 2 (R2) that bound FAK, disrupted the binding of FAK and p53 and decreased cancer cell viability and clonogenicity in a p53-dependent manner. In addition, dual-luciferase assays demonstrated that the R2 compound increased p53 transcriptional activity that was inhibited by FAK using p21, Mdm-2, and Bax-promoter targets. R2 also caused increased expression of p53 targets: p21, Mdm-2 and Bax proteins. Furthermore, R2 significantly decreased tumor growth, disrupted the complex of FAK and p53, and up-regulated p21 in HCT116 p53+/+ but not in HCT116 p53-/- xenografts in vivo. In addition, R2 sensitized HCT116p53+/+ cells to doxorubicin and 5-fluorouracil.
Conclusions
Thus, disruption of the FAK and p53 interaction with a novel small molecule reactivated p53 in cancer cells in vitro and in vivo and can be effectively used for development of FAK-p53 targeted cancer therapy approaches.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-342
PMCID: PMC3712010  PMID: 23841915
Focal adhesion kinase; p53Cancer; Small molecule; p21; Tumor; Apoptosis
12.  Disrupting the Scaffold to Improve Focal Adhesion Kinase–Targeted Cancer Therapeutics 
Science signaling  2013;6(268):pe10.
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is emerging as a promising cancer target because it is highly expressed at both the transcriptional and translational level in cancer and is involved in many aspects of tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis. Existing FAK-based therapeutics focus on inhibiting the kinase's catalytic function and not the large scaffold it creates that includes many oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinases and tumor suppressor proteins. Targeting the FAK scaffold is a feasible and promising approach for developing highly specific therapeutics that disrupt FAK signaling pathways in cancer.
doi:10.1126/scisignal.2004021
PMCID: PMC3693475  PMID: 23532331
13.  A Small-molecule Inhibitor, 5′-O-Tritylthymidine, targets FAK and Mdm-2 Interaction, and Blocks Breast and Colon Tumorigenesis in vivo 
Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) is overexpressed in many types of tumors and plays an important role in survival. We developed a novel approach, targeting FAK-protein interactions by computer modeling and screening of NCI small molecule drug database. In this report we targeted FAK and Mdm-2 protein interaction to decrease tumor growth. By macromolecular modeling we found a model of FAK and Mdm-2 interaction and performed screening of >200,000 small molecule compounds from NCI database with drug-like characteristics, targeting the FAK-Mdm-2 interaction. We identified 5′-O-Tritylthymidine, called M13 compound that significantly decreased viability in different cancer cells. M13 was docked into the pocket of FAK and Mdm-2 interaction and was directly bound to the FAK-N terminal domain by ForteBio Octet assay. In addition, M13 compound affected FAK and Mdm-2 levels and decreased complex of FAK and Mdm-2 proteins in breast and colon cancer cells. M13 re-activated p53 activity inhibited by FAK with Mdm-2 promoter. M13 decreased viability, clonogenicity, increased detachment and apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner in BT474 breast and in HCT116 colon cancer cells in vitro. M13 decreased FAK, activated p53 and caspase-8 in both cell lines. In addition, M13 decreased breast and colon tumor growth in vivo. M13 activated p53 and decreased FAK in tumor samples consistent with decreased tumor growth. The data demonstrate a novel approach for targeting FAK and Mdm-2 protein interaction, provide a model of FAK and Mdm-2 interaction, identify M13 compound targeting this interaction and decreasing tumor growth that is critical for future targeted therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3625481  PMID: 22292771
Apoptosis; Focal Adhesion Kinase; Mdm-2; Small molecule compound; p53; Tumor growth
14.  Neurofibromin physically interacts with the N-terminal domain of Focal Adhesion Kinase 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2009;48(11):1005-1017.
The NF1 gene that is altered in patients with type 1 neurofibromatosis encodes a neurofibromin (NF1) protein that functions as a tumor suppressor. In this report, we show for the first time physical interaction between neurofibromin and focal adhesion kinase (FAK), the protein that localizes at focal adhesions. We show that neurofibromin associates with the N-terminal domain of FAK, and that the C-terminal domain of neurofibromin directly interacts with FAK. Confocal microscopy demonstrates co-localization of NF1 and FAK in the cytoplasm, peri-nuclear and nuclear regions inside the cells. Nf1+/+ MEF cells expressed less cell growth during serum deprivation conditions, and adhered less on collagen and fibronectin-treated plates than Nf1−/− MEF cells, associated with changes in actin and FAK staining. In addition, Nf1+/+ MEF cells detached more significantly than Nf1−/− MEF cells by disruption of FAK signaling with the dominant-negative inhibitor of FAK, C-terminal domain of FAK, FAK-CD. Thus, the results demonstrate the novel interaction of neurofibromin and FAK and suggest their involvement in cell adhesion, cell growth, and other cellular events and pathways.
doi:10.1002/mc.20552
PMCID: PMC2783617  PMID: 19479903
Focal Adhesion Kinase; Neurofibromin; Neurofibromatosis; Protein interaction; Focal adhesions
15.  FAK and p53 Protein Interactions 
Focal Adhesion Kinase plays a major role in cell adhesion, motility, survival, proliferation, metastasis, angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. In 2004, we have cloned the promoter sequence of FAK and found that p53 inhibits its activity (BBA, v. 1678, 2004). In 2005, we were the first group to show that FAK and p53 proteins directly interact in the cells (JBC, v. 280, 2005). We have shown that FAK and p53 proteins interact in the cytoplasm and in the nucleus by immunoprecipitation, pull-down and confocal microscopy assays. We have shown that FAK inhibited activity of p53 with the transcriptional targets: p21, Bax and Mdm-2 through protein-protein interactions. We identified the 7 amino-acid site in p53 that is involved in interaction with FAK protein. The present review will discuss the interaction of FAK and p53 proteins and discuss the mechanism of FAK-p53 loop regulation: inhibition of FAK promoter activity by p53 protein and also inhibition of p53 transcriptional activity by FAK protein.
PMCID: PMC3184193  PMID: 21355845
Focal Adhesion Kinase; p53; metastasis; tumor; protein interaction
16.  A Novel Strategy to Inhibit FAK and IGF-1R Decreases Growth of Pancreatic Cancer Xenografts 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2010;49(2):200-209.
Deregulation of insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) signaling pathways plays an important role in cancer cell proliferation and metastasis. In pancreatic cancer cells, the crosstalk and compensatory mechanisms between these two pathways reduce the efficacy of the treatments that target only one of the pathways. Ablation of IGF-1R signaling by siRNA showed minimal effects on the survival and growth of pancreatic cancer cells. An increased activity of FAK pathway was seen in these cells after IGF-1R knockdown. Further inhibition of FAK pathway using Y15 significantly decreased cell survival, adhesion, and promoted apoptosis. The combination of Y15 treatment and IGF-1R knockdown also showed significant antitumor effect in vivo. The current study demonstrates the importance of dual inhibition of both these signaling pathways as a novel strategy to decrease both in vitro and in vivo growth of human pancreatic cancer.
doi:10.1002/mc.20590
PMCID: PMC3136037  PMID: 19885860
FAK; IGF-1R; pancreatic cancer
17.  Targeting of the protein interaction site between FAK and IGF-1R 
The interaction of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) plays an important role in cancer cell survival. Targeting this interaction with small molecule drugs could be a novel strategy in cancer therapy. By a series of pull-down assay using GST-tagged FAK fragments and His-tagged IGF-1R intracellular fragments, we showed that the FAK-NT2 (aa 127–243) domain directly interacts with the N-terminal part of the IGF-1R intracellular domain. Overexpressed FAK-NT2 domain was also shown to co-localize with IGF-1R in pancreatic cells. Computational modeling was used to predict the biding configuration of these two domains and to screen for small molecules binding to the interaction site. This strategy successfully identified a lead compound that disrupts FAK/IGF-1R interaction.
doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.07.156
PMCID: PMC2742998  PMID: 19664602
18.  FAK overexpression and p53 mutations are highly correlated in human breast cancer 
Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) is overexpressed in a number of tumors, including breast cancer. Another marker of breast cancer tumorigenesis is the tumor suppressor gene p53 that is frequently mutated in breast cancer. In the present study, our aim was to find a correlation between FAK overexpression, p53 expression and mutation status in a population-based series of invasive breast cancer tumors from the Carolina Breast Cancer Study. Immunohistochemical analyses of 622 breast cancer tumors revealed that expression of FAK and p53 were highly correlated (P = 0.0002) and FAK positive tumors were 1.8 times more likely to be p53 positive compared to FAK negative tumors [odds ratio (OR) = 1.8; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.2 – 2.8, adjusted for age, race and stage at diagnosis]. Tumors positive for p53 expression showed higher intensity of FAK staining (P<0.0001) and higher percent of FAK positive staining (P<0.0005). From the same study, we evaluated 596 breast tumors for mutations in the p53 gene, using SSCP (single strand conformational polymorphism) and sequencing. Statistical analyses were performed to determine the correlation between p53 mutation status and FAK expression in these tumors. We found that FAK expression and p53 mutation were positively correlated (P<0.0001) and FAK positive tumors were 2.5 times more likely to be p53 mutation positive compared to FAK negative tumors [adjusted OR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.6–3.9]. This is the first analysis demonstrating a high correlation between FAK expression and p53 mutations in a population-based series of breast tumors.
doi:10.1002/ijc.24486
PMCID: PMC2773794  PMID: 19521985
p53; Focal Adhesion Kinase; breast cancer; tumor
19.  The Small Molecule Chloropyramine Hydrochloride (C4) Targets the Binding Site of Focal Adhesion Kinase and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor 3 and Suppresses Breast Cancer Growth in vivo 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(15):4716-4724.
FAK is a tyrosine kinase that functions as a key orchestrator of signals leading to invasion and metastasis. Since FAK interacts directly with a number of critical proteins involved in survival signaling in tumor cells, we hypothesized that targeting a key protein-protein interface with drug-like small molecules was a feasible strategy for inhibiting tumor growth. In this study, we targeted the protein-protein interface between FAK and VEGFR-3 and identified compound C4 (chloropyramine hydrochloride) as a drug capable of 1) inhibiting the biochemical function of VEGFR-3 and FAK, 2) inhibiting proliferation of a diverse set of cancer cell types in vitro, and 3) reducing tumor growth in vivo. Chloropyramine hydrochloride reduced tumor growth as a single agent, while concomitant administration with doxorubicin had a pronounced synergistic effect. Our data demonstrate that the FAK-VEGFR-3 interaction can be targeted by small drug-like molecules and this interaction can provide the basis for highly-specific novel cancer therapeutics.
doi:10.1021/jm900159g
PMCID: PMC2765121  PMID: 19610651
20.  Crystallization of the focal adhesion kinase targeting (FAT) domain in a primitive orthorhombic space group 
X-ray diffraction data from the targeting (FAT) domain of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) were collected from a single crystal that diffracted to 1.99 Å resolution.
X-ray diffraction data from the targeting (FAT) domain of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) were collected from a single crystal that diffracted to 1.99 Å resolution and reduced to the primitive orthorhombic lattice. A single molecule was predicted to be present in the asymmetric unit based on the Matthews coefficient. The data were phased using molecular-replacement methods using an existing model of the FAK FAT domain. All structures of human focal adhesion kinase FAT domains solved to date have been solved in a C-centered orthorhombic space group.
doi:10.1107/S1744309108011421
PMCID: PMC2496861  PMID: 18540077
focal adhesion kinase; targeting domain
21.  Inhibition of Focal Adhesion Kinase Decreases Tumor Growth in Human Neuroblastoma 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2010;9(5):1005-1015.
Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial solid tumor of childhood. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is an intracellular kinase that regulates both cellular adhesion and apoptosis. FAK is overexpressed in a number of human tumors including neuroblastoma. Previously, we have shown that the MYCN oncogene, the primary adverse prognostic indicator in neuroblastoma, regulates the expression of FAK in neuroblastoma. In this study, we have examined the effects of FAK inhibition upon neuroblastoma using a small molecule [1,2,4,5-benzenetetraamine tetrahydrochloride (Y15)] to inhibit FAK expression and the phosphorylation of FAK at the Y397 site. Utilizing both non-isogenic and isogenic MYCN+/MYCN− neuroblastoma cell lines, we found that Y15 effectively diminished phosphorylation of the Y397 site of FAK. Treatment with Y15 resulted in increased detachment, decreased cell viability and increased apoptosis in the neuroblastoma cell lines. We also found that the cell lines with higher MYCN are more sensitive to Y15 treatment than their MYCN negative counterparts. In addition, we have shown that treatment with Y15 in vivo leads to less tumor growth in nude mouse xenograft models, again with the greatest effects seen in MYCN+ tumor xenografts. The results of the current study suggest that FAK and phosphorylation at the Y397 site plays a role in neuroblastoma cell survival, and that the FAK Y397 phosphorylation site is a potential therapeutic target for this childhood tumor.
PMCID: PMC2855768  PMID: 20160475
neuroblastoma; focal adhesion kinase; FAK; MYCN; pediatric; Y397; apoptosis
22.  Inhibition of Focal Adhesion Kinase and Src Increases Detachment and Apoptosis in Human Neuroblastoma Cell Lines 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2010;49(3):224-234.
Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial solid tumor of childhood. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is an intracellular kinase that is overexpressed in a number of human tumors including neuroblastoma, and regulates both cellular adhesion and survival. We have studied the effects of FAK inhibition upon neuroblastoma using adenovirus-containing FAK-CD (AdFAK-CD). Utilizing an isogenic MYCN+ / MYCN− neuroblastoma cell line, we found that the MYCN+ cells are more sensitive to FAK inhibition with AdFAK-CD than their MYCN negative counterparts. In addition, we have shown that phosphorylation of Src is increased in the untreated isogenic MYCN− neuroblastoma cells, and that the decreased sensitivity of the MYCN− neuroblastoma cells to FAK inhibition with AdFAK-CD is abrogated by the addition of the Src family kinase inhibitor, PP2. The results of the current study suggest that both FAK and Src play a role in protecting neuroblastoma cells from apoptosis, and that dual inhibition of these kinases may be important when designing therapeutic interventions for this tumor.
doi:10.1002/mc.20592
PMCID: PMC2849163  PMID: 19885861
Pediatric; Cancer; MYCN oncogene
23.  A small molecule inhibitor 1,2,4,5-Benzenetetraamine tetrahydrochloride, targeting the Y397 site of Focal Adhesion Kinase decreases tumor growth 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(23):7405-7416.
Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) is a non-receptor kinase that is overexpressed in many types of tumors. We developed a novel cancer-therapy approach, targeting the main autophosphorylation site of FAK, Y397 by computer modeling and screening of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) small molecule compounds database. More than 140,000 small molecule compounds were docked into the N-terminal domain of the FAK crystal structure in 100 different orientations that identified 35 compounds. One compound 14 (1,2,4,5-Benzenetetraamine tetrahydrochloride) significantly decreased viability in most of the cells to the levels equal or higher than control FAK inhibitor, 1a (2-[5-Chloro-2-[2-methoxy-4-(4-morpholinyl)phenylamino]pyrimidin-4-ylamino]-N-methylbenzamide; TAE226) from Novartis, Inc. The compound 14 specifically and directly blocked phosphorylation of Y397-FAK in a dose- and time-dependent manner. It increased cell detachment and inhibited cell adhesion in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, 14 effectively caused breast tumor regression in vivo. Thus, targeting the Y397 site of FAK with 14 inhibitor can be effectively used in cancer therapy.
doi:10.1021/jm800483v
PMCID: PMC2662449  PMID: 18989950
Focal Adhesion Kinase; Y397 site; autophosphorylation; tumor; inhibitor
24.  The direct effect of Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK), dominant-negative FAK, FAK-CD and FAK siRNA on gene expression and human MCF-7 breast cancer cell tumorigenesis 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:280.
Background
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase that plays an important role in survival signaling. FAK has been shown to be overexpressed in breast cancer tumors at early stages of tumorigenesis.
Methods
To study the direct effect of FAK on breast tumorigenesis, we developed Tet-ON (tetracycline-inducible) system of MCF-7 breast cancer cells stably transfected with FAK or dominant-negative, C-terminal domain of FAK (FAK-CD), and also FAKsiRNA with silenced FAK MCF-7 stable cell line. Increased expression of FAK in isogenic Tet-inducible MCF-7 cells caused increased cell growth, adhesion and soft agar colony formation in vitro, while expression of dominant-negative FAK inhibitor caused inhibition of these cellular processes. To study the role of induced FAK and FAK-CD in vivo, we inoculated these Tet-inducible cells in nude mice to generate tumors in the presence or absence of doxycycline in the drinking water. FAKsiRNA-MCF-7 cells were also injected into nude mice to generate xenograft tumors.
Results
Induction of FAK resulted in significant increased tumorigenesis, while induced FAK-CD resulted in decreased tumorigenesis. Taq Man Low Density Array assay demonstrated specific induction of FAKmRNA in MCF-7-Tet-ON-FAK cells. DMP1, encoding cyclin D binding myb-like protein 1 was one of the genes specifically affected by Tet-inducible FAK or FAK-CD in breast xenograft tumors. In addition, silencing of FAK in MCF-7 cells with FAK siRNA caused increased cell rounding, decreased cell viability in vitro and inhibited tumorigenesis in vivo. Importantly, Affymetrix microarray gene profiling analysis using Human Genome U133A GeneChips revealed >4300 genes, known to be involved in apoptosis, cell cycle, and adhesion that were significantly down- or up-regulated (p < 0.05) by FAKsiRNA.
Conclusion
Thus, these data for the first time demonstrate the direct effect of FAK expression and function on MCF-7 breast cancer tumorigenesis in vivo and reveal specific expression of genes affected by silencing of FAK.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-280
PMCID: PMC3087335  PMID: 19671193
25.  FAK and IGF-IR interact to provide survival signals in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells 
Carcinogenesis  2008;29(6):1096-1107.
Pancreatic cancer is a lethal disease accounting for the fourth leading cause of cancer death in USA. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and the insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF-1R) are tyrosine kinases that activate common pathways, leading to increased proliferation and cell survival. Sparse information is available regarding their contribution to the malignant behavior of pancreatic cancer. We analyzed the relationship between FAK and IGF-1R in human pancreatic cancer cells, determined which downstream signaling pathways are altered following kinase inhibition or downregulation and studied whether dual kinase inhibition represents a potential novel treatment strategy in this deadly disease. Using immunoprecipitation and confocal microscopy, we show for the first time that FAK and IGF-1R physically interact in pancreatic cancer cells and that inhibition of tyrosine phosphorylation of either kinase disrupts their interaction. Decreasing phosphorylation of either FAK or IGF-1R alone resulted in little inhibition of cell viability or increased apoptosis. However, dual inhibition of FAK, using either a dominant-negative construct (FAK-CD) or small interfering RNA, and IGF-1R, using a specific small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor (AEW-541) or stable expression of a truncated, mutated IGF-1R, led to a synergistic decrease in cell proliferation and phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and increase in cell detachment and apoptosis compared with inhibition of either pathway alone. Dual kinase inhibition with FAK-CD and AEW-541 resulted in a marked increase in apoptosis when FAK was displaced from the focal adhesions. Inhibition of both tyrosine kinase activities via a novel single small molecular inhibitor (TAE 226), at low doses specific for FAK and IGF-1R, resulted in significant inhibition of cell viability, decrease in phosphorylation of ERK and Akt and increase in apoptosis accompanied by cleavage of Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and activation of caspase-3 in pancreatic cancer cells. Thus, simultaneous inhibition of both tyrosine kinases represents a potential novel therapeutic approach in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgn026
PMCID: PMC2902396  PMID: 18263593

Results 1-25 (26)