The LIM kinases 1 and 2 (LIMK1 and LIMK2) are dual specificity (serine/threonine and tyrosine) kinases. Although they show significant structural similarity, LIMK1 and LIMK2 show different expression, subcellular localization, and functions. They are involved in many cellular functions, such as migration, cycle, and neuronal differentiation and also have a role in pathological processes, such as cancer cell invasion and metastatis, as well as in neurodevelopmental disorders (namely, the William's syndrome). LIM kinases have a relevant number of known partners that are able to induce or limit the ability of LIMK1 and LIMK2 to phosphorylate and inactivate their major substrate, cofilin. On the contrary, only a limited number of small molecules that interact with the two proteins to modulate their kinase activity have been identified. In this review, the most important partners of LIM kinases and their modulating activity toward LIMKs are described. The small compounds identified as LIMK1 and LIMK2 modulators are also reported, as well as their role as possible therapeutic agents for LIMK-induced diseases.
© 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.