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The integrin-linked kinase (ILK) suppresses anoikis


Disruption of integrin-extracellular matrix interactions in normal epithelial cells induces apoptosis, a process termed anoikis. Reduced sensitivity to anoikis appears to be an important hallmark of oncogenic transformation, particularly in the process of metastasis. Several pathways have been implicated in the suppression of anoikis, however, the events which take place proximal to the integrin receptors remain unclear. Integrin-linked kinase (ILK) is an integrin-interacting protein kinase which has been identified as a potential PDK-2, as it is capable of phosphorylating PKB/Akt on Ser-473, and stimulating its activity. Here, we show that ILK activity is stimulated upon adhesion of SCP2 mouse mammary epithelial cells to fibronectin, and inhibited in suspended cells. Overexpression of ILK in the anoikis-sensitive SCP2 cells results in a profound inhibition of anoikis, as determined by annexin V binding and activation of caspases 8 and 3. This effect is reversible by the transfection and expression of a dominant-negative, kinase deficient ILK (ILK KD), as well as by a dominant negative PKB/Akt (PKB AAA). On the other hand, transfection of a dominant negative form of FAK (FRNK) failed to reverse the suppression of anoikis by ILK. Furthermore, inhibition of ILK activity induced anoikis in two anoikis-resistant human breast cancer cell lines. These findings suggest that ILK plays a major role in the suppression of anoikis.

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We thank Kristina Vouri for the FRNK expression plasmid, and Kinetek Pharmaceuticals (Vancouver, Canada) for providing the ILK inhibitor, KP-SD1. This work was supported by grants to S Dedhar from the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC). S Attwell is a recipient of a University Graduate Fellowship (UGF) from the University of British Columbia.

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Attwell, S., Roskelley, C. & Dedhar, S. The integrin-linked kinase (ILK) suppresses anoikis. Oncogene 19, 3811–3815 (2000).

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  • apoptosis
  • protein kinase B
  • fibronectin
  • caspases

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