The results presented here demonstrate that focal adhesion kinase (FAK) Tyr-861 is the predominant tyrosine phosphorylation site stimulated by hyperosmotic stress in a variety of cell types, including epithelial cell lines (ileum-derived IEC-18, colon-derived Caco2, and stomach-derived NCI-N87), FAK null fibroblasts re-expressing FAK, and Src family kinase triple null fibroblasts (SYF cells) in which c-Src has been restored (YF cells). We show that hyperosmotic stress-stimulated FAK phosphorylation in epithelial cells is inhibited by Src family kinase inhibitors PP2 and SU6656 and that it does not occur in SYF cells. Unexpectedly, hyperosmotic stress-induced phosphorylation of FAK at Tyr-397, Tyr-576, and most dramatically at Tyr-861 was completely insensitive to the F-actin-disrupting agents, latrunculin A and cytochalasin D. Finally, we show that in FAK null cells exposed to hyperosmotic stress or growth factor withdrawal, re-expression of wild type FAK restored cell survival, whereas re-expression of FAK mutated from tyrosine to phenylalanine at position 861 (FAKY861F) did not. Our results indicate that FAK Tyr-861 phosphorylation is required for mammalian cell survival of hyperosmotic stress. Furthermore, the results suggest that FAK is an upstream regulator (rather than downstream effector) of F-actin reorganization in response to hyperosmotic stress. We propose that FAK/c-Src bipartite enzyme is a sensor of cytoplasmic shrinkage, and that the phosphorylation on FAK Tyr-861 by Src and subsequent reorganization of F-actin can initiate an anti-apoptotic signaling pathway that protects cells from hyperosmotic stress.
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