High focal adhesion kinase expression in invasive breast carcinomas is associated with an aggressive phenotype

Amy L. Lark, Chad A. Livasy, Lynn Dressler, Dominic T. Moore, Robert C. Millikan, Joseph Geradts, Mary Iacocca, David Cowan, Debbie Little, Rolf J. Craven, William Cance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a protein tyrosine kinase expressed in invasive breast cancer that regulates antiapoptotic signaling. We have examined FAK expression by immunohistochemistry using anti-FAK 4.47 in breast tumor samples from a large population-based, case-control study of women participating in the University of North Carolina Breast Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE), Carolina Breast Cancer Study. In this population, 629 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections were stained for FAK and scored as high (3+ or 4+ intensity and ≥90% positive cells) or otherwise. High FAK expression was associated with poor prognostic indicators including high mitotic index (>10 mitoses per 10 consecutive high-power fields), nuclear grade 3, architectural grade 3, estrogen and progesterone receptor negative, and HER-2/neu overexpressed using CB11 antibody. The association of high FAK expression with HER-2/neu overexpression lends further support that HER-2/neu and FAK collaborate to promote tumorigenesis. The presence of strong FAK expression in many high grade, estrogen- and progesterone-negative breast carcinomas indicates that FAK may be an attractive target for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1294
Number of pages6
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research supported by NIH Grant RO1 65910 and Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Breast Cancer, NIH/NCI P50-CA 58223. We thank the UNC SPORE Tissue Procurement and Analysis Core Facility of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center for training, technical support, and use of laboratory equipment. We also thank Jessica Tse for statistical assistance.


  • Breast cancer
  • Focal adhesion kinase
  • Immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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