Mammary gland-specific ablation of focal adhesion kinase reduces the incidence of p53-mediated mammary tumour formation.



Using this approach, we show that FAK is important for p53-induced mammary tumour development. In addition, mice with the mammary gland-specific conditional expression of p53 point mutation R270H, the mouse equivalent to human R273H, in combination with conditional deletion of Fak showed reduced incidence of p53(R270H)-induced mammary tumours. In both models these effects of FAK were related to reduced proliferation in preneoplastic lesions in the mammary gland ductal structures.


To directly assess the role of FAK, we generated mice with conditional inactivation of FAK and p53. We generated female p53(lox/lox)/FAK(+/+)/WapCre, p53(lox/lox)/FAK(flox/+)/WapCre and p53(lox/lox)/FAK(flox/-)/WapCre mice, and mice with WapCre-mediated conditional expression of p53(R270H), the mouse equivalent of human p53(R273H) hot spot mutation, together with conditional deletion of FAK, P53(R270H/+)/FAK(lox/+)/WapCre and p53(R270H/+)/FAK(flox/-)/WapCre mice. All mice were subjected to one pregnancy to induce WapCre-mediated deletion of p53 or expression of p53 R270H, and Fak genes flanked by two loxP sites, and subsequently followed the development of mammary tumours.


Mammary gland-specific ablation of FAK hampers p53-regulated spontaneous mammary tumour formation. Focal adhesion kinase deletion reduced proliferative capacity of p53 null and p53(R270H) mammary epithelial cells but did not lead to increased apoptosis in vivo. Our data identify FAK as an important regulator in mammary epithelial cell proliferation in p53-mediated and p53(R270H)-induced mammary tumour development.


Elevated expression of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) occurs in numerous human cancers including colon-, cervix- and breast cancer. Although several studies have implicated FAK in mammary tumour formation induced by ectopic oncogene expression, evidence supporting a role for FAK in spontaneous mammary tumour development caused by loss of tumour suppressor genes such as p53 is lacking. Alterations in the tumour suppressor gene p53 have been implicated in over 50% of human breast cancers. Given that elevated FAK expression highly correlates with p53 mutation status in human breast cancer, we set out to investigate the importance of FAK in p53-mediated spontaneous mammary tumour development.

More about this publication

British journal of cancer
  • Volume 110
  • Issue nr. 11
  • Pages 2747-55
  • Publication date 27-05-2014

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