Identification of methyl violet 2B as a novel blocker of focal adhesion kinase signaling pathway in cancer cells

Hwan Kim, Nam Doo Kim, Jiyeon Lee, Gyoonhee Han, Taebo Sim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) signaling cascade in cancer cells was profoundly inhibited by methyl violet 2B identified with the structure-based virtual screening. Methyl violet 2B was shown to be a non-competitive inhibitor of full-length FAK enzyme vs. ATP. It turned out that methyl violet 2B possesses extremely high kinase selectivity in biochemical kinase profiling using a large panel of kinases. Anti-proliferative activity measurement against several different cancer cells and Western blot analysis showed that this substance is capable of suppressing significantly the proliferation of cancer cells and is able to strongly block FAK/AKT/MAPK signaling pathways in a dose dependent manner at low nanomolar concentration. Especially, phosphorylation of Tyr925-FAK that is required for full activation of FAK was nearly completely suppressed even with 1. nM of methyl violet 2B in A375P cancer cells. To the best of our knowledge, it has never been reported that methyl violet possesses anti-cancer effects. Moreover, methyl violet 2B significantly inhibited FER kinase phosphorylation that activates FAK in cell. In addition, methyl violet 2B was found to induce cell apoptosis and to exhibit strong inhibitory effects on the focal adhesion, invasion, and migration of A375P cancer cells at low nanomolar concentrations. Taken together, these results show that methyl violet 2B is a novel, potent and selective blocker of FAK signaling cascade, which displays strong anti-proliferative activities against a variety of human cancer cells and suppresses adhesion/migration/invasion of tumor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-324
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and biophysical research communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jul 26

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Korea Institute of Science and Technology and a grant ( 2011-0028676 ) from the creative/challenging research program of National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Republic of Korea.


  • Adhesion/migration/invasion suppression
  • FAK signaling blocker
  • FER phosphorylation inhibition
  • Focal adhesion kinase
  • Methyl violet 2B
  • Structure-based virtual screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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