LIM kinases: function, regulation and association with human disease

J Mol Med (Berl). 2007 Jun;85(6):555-68. doi: 10.1007/s00109-007-0165-6. Epub 2007 Feb 10.


The LIM kinase family consists of just two members: LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) and LIM kinase 2 (LIMK2). With uniquely organised signalling domains, LIM kinases are regulated by several upstream signalling pathways, principally acting downstream of Rho GTPases to influence the architecture of the actin cytoskeleton by regulating the activity of the cofilin family proteins cofilin1, cofilin2 and destrin. Although the LIM kinases are very homologous, particularly when comparing kinase domains, there is emerging evidence that each may be subject to different regulatory pathways and may contribute to both distinct and overlapping cellular and developmental functions. Normal central nervous system development is reliant upon the presence of LIMK1, and its deletion has been implicated in the development of the human genetic disorder Williams syndrome. Normal testis development, on the other hand, is disrupted by the deletion of LIMK2. In addition, the possible involvement of each kinase in cardiovascular disorders as well as cancer has recently emerged. The LIM kinases have been proposed to play an important role in tumour-cell invasion and metastasis; fine-tuning the balance between phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated cofilin may be a significant determinant of tumour-cell metastatic potential. In this review, we outline the structure, regulation and function of LIM kinases and their functions at cellular and organismal levels, as well as their possible contributions to human disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Humans
  • Lim Kinases
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Kinases / chemistry
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Protein Kinases
  • LIMK1 protein, human
  • Lim Kinases