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Alexopoulou A.N.,Queen Mary, University of London | Ho-Yen C.M.,Queen Mary, University of London | Papalazarou V.,Vascular Adhesion Laboratory | Elia G.,Queen Mary, University of London | And 2 more authors.
BMC Cancer | Year: 2014

Background: Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease that can be classified into one of 4 main molecular sub-types: luminal A, luminal B, Her2 over-expressing and basal-like (BL). These tumour sub-types require different treatments and have different risks of disease progression. BL cancers can be considered a sub-group of Triple negative (TN) cancers since they lack estrogen (ER), progesterone (PR) and Her2 expression. No targeted treatment currently exists for TN/BL cancers. Thus it is important to identify potential therapeutic targets and describe their relationship with established prognostic factors. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is upregulated in several human cancers and also plays a functional role in tumour angiogenesis. However, the association between breast cancer sub-types and tumour endothelial-FAK expression is unknown.Methods: Using immunofluorescence, we quantified FAK expression in tumour endothelial and tumour cell compartments in 149 invasive breast carcinomas and correlated expression with clinical, pathological and molecular parameters.Results: Low endothelial-FAK expression was independently associated with luminal A tumours at univariate (p < 0.001) and multivariate (p = 0.001) analysis. There was a positive correlation between FAK expression in the vascular and tumour cell compartments (Spearman's correlation co-efficient = 0.394, p < 0.001). Additionally, endothelial and tumour cell FAK expression were significantly increased in TN tumours (p = 0.043 and p = 0.033 respectively), in tumours with negative ER and PR status, and in high grade tumours at univariate analysis.Conclusion: Our findings establish a relationship between endothelial-FAK expression levels and the molecular sub-type of invasive breast cancer, and suggest that endothelial-FAK expression is potentially more clinically relevant than tumour cell FAK expression in breast cancer. © 2014 Alexopoulou et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

Monkley S.J.,University of Leicester | Kostourou V.,Vascular Adhesion Laboratory | Spence L.,University of Leicester | Petrich B.,University of California at San Diego | And 4 more authors.
Developmental Biology | Year: 2011

Using Tln1fl/fl;CreER mice, we show that tamoxifen-induced inactivation of the talin1 gene throughout the embryo produces an angiogenesis phenotype that is restricted to newly forming blood vessels. The phenotype has a rapid onset in early embryos, resulting in vessel defects by 48h and death of the embryo within 72h. Very similar vascular defects were obtained using a Tie2-Cre endothelial cell-specific Tln1 knockout, a phenotype that was rescued by expression of a Tln1 mini-gene in endothelial cells. We show that endothelial cells, unlike most other cell types, do not express talin2, which can compensate for loss of talin1, and demonstrate for the first time that endothelial cells in vivo lacking talin1 are unable to undergo the cell spreading and flattening required to form vessels. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. Source

Tavora B.,Cancer Research UK Research Institute | Batista S.,Cancer Research UK Research Institute | Reynolds L.E.,Cancer Research UK Research Institute | Jadeja S.,University College London | And 6 more authors.
EMBO Molecular Medicine | Year: 2010

Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase that plays a fundamental role in integrin and growth factor mediated signalling and is an important player in cell migration and proliferation, processes vital for angiogenesis. However, the role of FAK in adult pathological angiogenesis is unknown. We have generated endothelial-specific tamoxifen-inducible FAK knockout mice by crossing FAK-floxed (FAKfl/fl) mice with the platelet derived growth factor b (Pdgfb)-iCreER mice. Tamoxifen-treatment of Pdgfb-iCreER;FAKfl/fl mice results in FAK deletion in adult endothelial cells (ECs) without any adverse effects. Importantly however, endothelial FAK-deletion in adult mice inhibited tumour growth and reduced tumour angiogenesis. Furthermore, in in vivo angiogenic assays FAK deletion impairs vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced neovascularization. In addition, in vitro deletion of FAK in ECs resulted in reduced VEGF-stimulated Akt phosphorylation and correlating reduced cellular proliferation as well as increased cell death. Our data suggest that FAK is required for adult pathological angiogenesis and validates FAK as a possible target for anti-angiogenic therapies. © 2010 EMBO Molecular Medicine. Source

Kostourou V.,Vascular Adhesion Laboratory
Nature communications | Year: 2013

Genetic ablation of endothelial focal adhesion kinase (FAK) can inhibit pathological angiogenesis, suggesting that loss of endothelial FAK is sufficient to reduce neovascularization. Here we show that reduced stromal FAK expression in FAK-heterozygous mice unexpectedly enhances both B16F0 and CMT19T tumour growth and angiogenesis. We further demonstrate that cell proliferation and microvessel sprouting, but not migration, are increased in serum-stimulated FAK-heterozygous endothelial cells. FAK-heterozygous endothelial cells display an imbalance in FAK phosphorylation at pY397 and pY861 without changes in Pyk2 or Erk1/2 activity. By contrast, serum-stimulated phosphorylation of Akt is enhanced in FAK-heterozygous endothelial cells and these cells are more sensitive to Akt inhibition. Additionally, low doses of a pharmacological FAK inhibitor, although too low to affect FAK autophosphorylation in vitro, can enhance angiogenesis ex vivo and tumour growth in vivo. Our results highlight a potential novel role for FAK as a nonlinear, dose-dependent regulator of angiogenesis where heterozygous levels of FAK enhance angiogenesis. Source

Tavora B.,Queen Mary, University of London | Batista S.,Queen Mary, University of London | Alexopoulou A.N.,Queen Mary, University of London | Kostourou V.,Vascular Adhesion Laboratory | And 5 more authors.
Genesis | Year: 2014

Focal adhesion kinase is a non-receptor protein tyrosine kinase with signaling functions downstream of integrins and growth factor receptors. In addition to its role in adhesion, migration, and proliferation it also has non-kinase scaffolding functions in the nucleus. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) activation involves the following: (1) ligand bound growth factors or clustered integrins activate FAK kinase domain; (2) FAK autophosphorylates tyrosine (Y) 397; (3) Src binds pY397 and phosphorylates FAK at various other sites including Y861; (4) downstream signaling of activated FAK elicits changes in cellular behavior. Although many studies have demonstrated roles for the kinase domain, Y397 and Y861 sites, in vitro much less is known about their functions in vivo. Here, we report the generation of a series of FAK-mutant knockin mice where mutant FAK, either kinase dead, non-phosphorylatable mutants Y397F and Y861F, or mutant Y397E-containing a phosphomimetic site that results in a constitutive active Y397, can be expressed in a Cre inducible fashion driven by the ROSA26 promoter. In future studies, intercrossing these mice with FAKflox/flox mice and inducible cre-expressing mice will enable the in vivo study of mutant FAK function in the absence of endogenous FAK in a spatially and temporally regulated fashion within the whole organism. genesis 52:907-915, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source

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