Focal adhesion kinase regulates collagen I-induced airway smooth muscle phenotype switching

Bart G J Dekkers, Anita I R Spanjer, Robert D van der Schuyt, Willem Jan Kuik, Johan Zaagsma, Herman Meurs

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Increased extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition and airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass are major contributors to airway remodeling in asthma. Recently, we demonstrated that the ECM protein collagen I, which is increased surrounding asthmatic ASM, induces a proliferative, hypocontractile ASM phenotype. Little is known, however, about the signaling pathways involved. Using bovine tracheal smooth muscle, we investigated the role of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and downstream signaling pathways in collagen I-induced ASM phenotype modulation. Phosphorylation of FAK was increased during adhesion to both uncoated and collagen I-coated culture dishes, without differences between these matrices. Nor were any differences found in cellular adhesion. Inhibition of FAK activity by overexpression of the FAK deletion mutants FAT (focal adhesion targeting domain) and FRNK (FAK-related nonkinase) attenuated adhesion. After attachment, FAK phosphorylation increased in a time-dependent manner in cells cultured on collagen I, whereas no activation was found on an uncoated plastic matrix. In addition, collagen I increased in a time- and concentration-dependent manner the cell proliferation, which was fully inhibited by FAT and FRNK. Similarly, the specific pharmacologic FAK inhibitor PF-573228 [6-((4-((3-(methanesulfonyl)benzyl)amino)-5-trifluoromethylpyrimidin-2-yl) amino)-3,4-dihydro-1H-quinolin-2-one] as well as specific inhibitors of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Src also fully inhibited collagen I-induced proliferation, whereas partial inhibition was observed by inhibition of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-kinase) and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK). The inhibition of cell proliferation by these inhibitors was associated with attenuation of the collagen I-induced hypocontractility. Collectively, the results indicate that induction of a proliferative, hypocontractile ASM phenotype by collagen I is mediated by FAK and downstream signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-95
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2013


  • Airway Remodeling
  • Animals
  • Asthma
  • Cattle
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen Type I
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Smooth
  • Mutant Proteins
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • Trachea

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