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Aguilar-Solis, E. D; Lee-Rivera, I; Alvarez-Arce, A; Lopez, E; Lopez-Colome, A. M (2017)


Cell. Signal. 36():56-66
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The migration of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells is an important step in various pathologic conditions including subretinal neovascularization (SRN), proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) and, importantly, as a consequence of retinal surgery. Therefore, the elucidation of the mechanisms underlying RPE trans-differentiation and migration is essential for devising effective treatments aimed to the prevention of these disorders. A common event in these pathologies is the alteration of the blood-retina barrier (BRB), which allows the interaction of RPE cells with thrombin, a pro-inflammatory protease contained in serum. Our previous work has demonstrated that thrombin induces RPE cell cytoskeletal remodeling and migration, hallmark processes in the development of PVR; however, the molecular mechanisms involved are still unclear. Cell migration requires the disassembly of focal adhesions induced by Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) phosphorylation, together with the formation of actin stress fibers. The aim of the present work was to identify thrombin-activated signaling pathways leading to FAK phosphorylation and to determine FAK participation in thrombin-induced RPE cell migration. Results demonstrate that the activation of PAR1 by thrombin induces FAK autophosphorylation at Y397 and the subsequent phosphorylation of Y576/577 within the activation loop. FAK phosphorylation was shown to be under the control of c/nPKC and PI3K/PKC-ζ, as well as by Rho/ROCK, since the inhibition of these pathways prevented thrombin-induced FAK phosphorylation and the consequent disassembly of focal adhesions, in parallel to FAK-dependent actin stress fiber formation and RPE cell migration. These findings demonstrate, for the first time, that thrombin stimulation of RPE cell transformation and migration are regulated by FAK tyrosine phosphorylation. Thus, targeting FAK phosphorylation may provide a strategical basis for PVR treatment.