An altered fibronectin matrix induces anoikis of human squamous cell carcinoma cells by suppressing integrin alpha v levels and phosphorylation of FAK and ERK.Apoptosis. 2007 Dec; 12(12):2221-31.A
Fibronectin regulates many cellular processes, including migration, proliferation, differentiation, and survival. Previously, we showed that squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cell aggregates escape suspension-induced, p53-mediated anoikis by engaging in fibronectin-mediated survival signals through focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Here we report that an altered matrix, consisting of a mutated, nonfunctional high-affinity heparin-binding domain and the V region of fibronectin (V+H-), induced anoikis in human SCC cells; this response was blocked by inhibitors of caspase-8 and caspase-3. Anoikis was mediated by downregulation of integrin alpha v in a panel of SCC cells and was shown to be proteasome-dependent. Overexpression of integrin alpha v or FAK inhibited the increase in caspase-3 activation and apoptosis, whereas suppression of alpha v or FAK triggered a further significant increase in apoptosis, indicating that the apoptosis was mediated by suppression of integrin alpha v levels and dephosphorylation of FAK. Treatment with V+H- decreased the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1 and 2, and direct activation of ERK by constitutively active MEK1, an ERK kinase, increased ERK1 and ERK2 phosphorylation and inhibited the increase in apoptosis induced by V+H-. ERK acted downstream from alpha v and FAK signals, since alpha v and FAK overexpression inhibited both the decrease in ERK phosphorylation and the increase in anoikis triggered by V+H-. These findings provide evidence that mutations in the high-affinity heparin-binding domain in association with the V region of fibronectin, or altered fibronectin matrices, induce anoikis in human SCC cells by modulating integrin alpha v-mediated phosphorylation of FAK and ERK.