Combinatorial activation of FAK and AKT by transforming growth factor-β1 confers an anoikis-resistant phenotype to myofibroblasts

Academic Article


  • Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is a prototypical tumour-suppressor cytokine with cytostatic and pro-apoptotic effects on most target cells; however, mechanisms of its pro-survival/anti-apoptotic signalling in certain cell types and contexts remain unclear. In human lung fibroblasts, TGF-β1 is known to induce myofibroblast differentiation in association with the delayed activation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and protein kinase B (PKB/AKT). Here, we demonstrate that FAK and AKT are independently regulated by early activation of SMAD3 and p38 MAPK, respectively. Pharmacologic or genetic approaches that disrupt SMAD3 signalling block TGF-β1-induced activation of FAK, but not AKT; in contrast, disruption of early p38 MAPK signalling abrogates AKT activation, but does not alter FAK activation. TGF-β1 is able to activate AKT in cells expressing mutant FAK or in cells treated with an RGD-containing peptide that interferes with integrin signalling, inhibits FAK activation and induces anoikis (apoptosis induced by loss of adhesion signalling). TGF-β1 protects myofibroblasts from anoikis, in part, by activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway. Thus, TGF-β1 co-ordinately and independently activates the FAK and AKT protein kinase pathways to confer an anoikis-resistant phenotype to myofibroblasts. Activation of these pro-survival/anti-anoikis pathways in myofibroblasts likely contributes to essential roles of TGF-β1 in tissue fibrosis and tumour-promotion. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Horowitz JC; Rogers DS; Sharma V; Vittal R; White ES; Cui Z; Thannickal VJ
  • Start Page

  • 761
  • End Page

  • 771
  • Volume

  • 19
  • Issue

  • 4