IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) and integrin cooperative signaling promotes cancer cell survival, proliferation, and motility, but whether this influences cancer progression and therapy responses is largely unknown. Here we investigated the non-receptor tyrosine adhesion kinase FES-related (FER), following its identification as a potential mediator of sensitivity to IGF-1R kinase inhibition in a functional siRNA screen. We found that FER and the IGF-1R co-locate in cells and can be co-immunoprecipitated. Ectopic FER expression strongly enhanced IGF-1R expression and phosphorylation on tyrosines 950 and 1131. FER phosphorylated these sites in an IGF-1R kinase-independent manner and also enhanced IGF-1-mediated phosphorylation of SHC, and activation of either AKT or MAPK-signaling pathways in different cells. The IGF-1R, β1 Integrin, FER, and its substrate cortactin were all observed to co-locate in cell adhesion complexes, the disruption of which reduced IGF-1R expression and activity. High FER expression correlates with phosphorylation of SHC in breast cancer cell lines and with a poor prognosis in patient cohorts. FER and SHC phosphorylation and IGF-1R expression could be suppressed with a known anaplastic lymphoma kinase inhibitor (AP26113) that shows high specificity for FER kinase. Overall, we conclude that FER enhances IGF-1R expression, phosphorylation, and signaling to promote cooperative growth and adhesion signaling that may facilitate cancer progression.
- Journal Article