Biological significance of focal adhesion kinase in ovarian cancer: Role in migration and invasion

Anil K. Sood*, Jeremy E. Coffin, Galen B. Schneider, Mavis S. Fletcher, Barry R. DeYoung, Lynn M. Gruman, David M. Gershenson, Michael D. Schaller, Mary J.C. Hendrix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a nonreceptor tyrosine kinase that is activated by integrin clustering. There are limited data regarding the functional role of FAK in ovarian cancer migration and invasion. In the current study, FAK expression was evaluated in ovarian cell lines (nontransformed and cancer), 12 benign ovarian samples, and in 79 invasive epithelial ovarian cancers. All three ovarian cancer cell lines overexpressed FAK compared to the nontransformed cells. The dominant-negative construct called FAK-related nonkinase (FRNK) was introduced into two ovarian cancer cell lines (SKOV3 and 222). FRNK promoted FAK dephosphorylation without changing total FAK levels in these cell lines. Furthermore, FRNK decreased the in vitro invasive ability of ovarian cancer cells by 56 to 85% and decreased migration by 52 to 68%. FRNK-transfected cells also displayed poor cell spreading. Immunohlstochemical analysis revealed that the surface epithelium from all benign ovarian samples had weak FAK expression. In contrast, 68% of invasive ovarian cancers overexpressed FAK. FAK overexpression was significantly associated with high tumor stage, high tumor grade, positive lymph nodes and presence of distant metastasis (all P values <0.05). FAK overexpression was also associated with shorter overall survival (P = 0.008). Multivariate analysis revealed that FAK overexpression and residual disease >1 cm were independent predictors of poor survival. These data indicate that FAK is over-expressed in most invasive ovarian cancers and plays a functionally significant role in ovarian cancer migration and invasion. Thus, FAK may be an important therapeutic target in ovarian carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1087-1095
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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