Day of the dead: pseudokinases and pseudophosphatases in physiology and disease

Trends Cell Biol. 2014 Sep;24(9):489-505. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2014.03.008. Epub 2014 May 10.


Pseudophosphatases and pseudokinases are increasingly viewed as integral elements of signaling pathways, and there is mounting evidence that they have frequently retained the ability to interact with cellular 'substrates', and can exert important roles in different diseases. However, these pseudoenzymes have traditionally received scant attention compared to classical kinases and phosphatases. In this review we explore new findings in the emerging pseudokinase and pseudophosphatase fields, and discuss their different modes of action which include exciting new roles as scaffolds, anchors, spatial modulators, traps, and ligand-driven regulators of canonical kinases and phosphatases. Thus, it is now apparent that pseudokinases and pseudophosphatases both support and drive a panoply of signaling networks. Finally, we highlight recent evidence on their involvement in human pathologies, marking them as potential novel drug targets.

Keywords: ATP; cancer; enzyme; kinase; phosphatase; pseudokinase; pseudophosphatase; signaling; substrate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / chemistry
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / genetics
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Phosphotransferases / chemistry
  • Phosphotransferases / genetics
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Phosphotransferases
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases