Visualizing and manipulating Focal Adhesion Kinase regulation in live cells

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Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) is essential for cell migration and plays an important role in tumor metastasis. However, the complex intermolecular and intramolecular interactions that regulate FAK activity at the focal adhesion remain unresolved. We have engineered a toolbox of FRET sensors that retain all of the individual FAK domains but modulate a key intramolecular regulatory interaction between the band 4.1/ezrin/radixin/ moesin (FERM) and kinase domains of FAK.Wedemonstrate systematic control and quantitative measurement of the FERM-kinase interaction at focal adhesions, which in turn allows us to control cell migration. Using these sensors, we find that Tyr-397 phosphorylation, rather than kinase activity of FAK, is the key determinant of cell migration. Our sensors directly demonstrate, for the first time, a pH-dependent change in a protein-protein interaction at a macromolecular structure in live cells. The FERMkinase interaction at focal adhesions is enhanced at acidic pH, with a concomitant decrease in Tyr-397 phosphorylation, providing a potential mechanism for enhanced migration of cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8875-8886
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 29 2013


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