Cleavage of focal adhesion kinase by caspases during apoptosis

Long Ping Wen, Jimothy A. Fahrni, Sergiu Troie, Jun Lin Guan, Kim Orth, Glenn D. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

311 Scopus citations


Apoptotic cells undergo characteristic morphological changes that include detachment of cell attachment from the substratum and loss of cell- cell interactions. Attachment of cells to the extracellular matrix and to other cells is mediated by integrins. The interactions of integrins with the extracellular matrix activates focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and suppresses apoptosis in diverse cell types. Members of the tumor necrosis family such as Fas and Apo-2L, also known as tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis- inducing ligand (TRAIL), induce apoptosis in both suspension and adherent cells through the activation of caspases. These caspases, when activated, cleave substrates that are important for the maintenance of nuclear and membrane integrity. In this study, we show that FAK is sequentially cleaved into two different fragments early in Apo-2L-induced apoptosis. We also demonstrate that FAK cleavage is mediated by caspases and that FAK shows unique sensitivity to different caspases. Our results suggest that disruption of FAK may contribute to the morphological changes observed in apoptotic suspension and adherent cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26056-26061
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 10 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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