P21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4) is a member of the p21-activated kinase (PAK) family. Historically much of the attention has been directed towards founding family member PAK1 but the focus is now shifting towards PAK4. It is a pluripotent serine/threonine kinase traditionally recognised as a downstream effector of the Rho-family GTPases. However, emerging research over the last few years has revealed that this kinase is much more than that. New findings have shed light on the molecular mechanism of PAK4 activation and how this kinase is critical for early development. Moreover, the number of PAK4 substrates and binding partners is rapidly expanding highlighting the increasing amount of cellular functions controlled by PAK4. We propose that PAK4 should be considered a signalling integrator regulating numerous fundamental cellular processes, including actin cytoskeletal dynamics, cell morphology and motility, cell survival, embryonic development, immune defence and oncogenic transformation. This review will outline our current understanding of PAK4 biology.
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