GH Ashton, JP Morton, K Myant, TJ Phesse, RA Ridgway, V Marsh, JA Wilkins, D Athineos, V Muncan, R Kemp, K Neufeld, H Clevers, V Brunton, DJ Winton, X Wang, RC Sears, AR Clarke, MC Frame, OJ Sansom
The intestinal epithelium has a remarkable capacity to regenerate after injury and DNA damage. Here, we show that the integrin effector protein Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) is dispensable for normal intestinal homeostasis and DNA damage signaling, but is essential for intestinal regeneration following DNA damage. Given Wnt/c-Myc signaling is activated following intestinal regeneration, we investigated the functional importance of FAK following deletion of the Apc tumor suppressor protein within the intestinal epithelium. Following Apc loss, FAK expression increased in a c-Myc-dependent manner. Codeletion of Apc and Fak strongly reduced proliferation normally induced following Apc loss, and this was associated with reduced levels of phospho-Akt and suppression of intestinal tumorigenesis in Apc heterozygous mice. Thus, FAK is required downstream of Wnt Signaling, for Akt/mTOR activation, intestinal regeneration, and tumorigenesis. Importantly, this work suggests that FAK inhibitors may suppress tumorigenesis in patients at high risk of developing colorectal cancer.