Structural and functional diversity in the activity and regulation of DAPK-related protein kinases

FEBS J. 2013 Nov;280(21):5533-50. doi: 10.1111/febs.12384. Epub 2013 Jul 5.


Within the large group of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases (CAMKs) of the human kinome, there is a distinct branch of highly related kinases that includes three families: death-associated protein-related kinases, myosin light-chain-related kinases and triple functional domain protein-related kinases. In this review, we refer to these collectively as DMT kinases. There are several functional features that span the three families, such as a broad involvement in apoptotic processes, cytoskeletal association and cellular plasticity. Other CAMKs contain a highly conserved HRD motif, which is a prerequisite for kinase regulation through activation-loop phosphorylation, but in all 16 members of the DMT branch, this is replaced by an HF/LD motif. This DMT kinase signature motif substitutes phosphorylation-dependent active-site interactions with a local hydrophobic core that maintains an active kinase conformation. Only about half of the DMT kinases have an additional autoregulatory domain, C-terminal to the kinase domain that binds calcium/calmodulin in order to regulate kinase activity. Protein substrates have been identified for some of the DMT kinases, but little is known about the mechanism of recognition. Substrate conformation could be an equally important parameter in substrate recognition as specific preferences in sequence position. Taking the data together, this kinase branch encapsulates a treasure trove of features that renders it distinct from many other protein kinases and calls for future research activities in this field.

Keywords: DMT kinases; HF/LD motif; autoregulatory domain; calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases; death-associated protein-related kinases; myosin light-chain-related kinases; titin kinase; triple functional domain protein-related kinases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Death-Associated Protein Kinases / chemistry*
  • Death-Associated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Death-Associated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Kinase / chemistry
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Kinase / genetics
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Kinase / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Death-Associated Protein Kinases
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Kinase