Rho-associated coiled-coil containing kinases (ROCK) were originally identified as effectors of the RhoA small GTPase. (1)(-) (5) They belong to the AGC family of serine/threonine kinases (6) and play vital roles in facilitating actomyosin cytoskeleton contractility downstream of RhoA and RhoC activation. Since their discovery, ROCK kinases have been extensively studied, unveiling their manifold functions in processes including cell contraction, migration, apoptosis, survival, and proliferation. Two mammalian ROCK homologs have been identified, ROCK1 (also called ROCK I, ROKβ, Rho-kinase β, or p160ROCK) and ROCK2 (also known as ROCK II, ROKα, or Rho kinase), hereafter collectively referred to as ROCK. In this review, we will focus on the structure, regulation, and functions of ROCK.
Keywords: ROCK; Rho; actin; cytoskeleton; kinase; myosin; phosphorylation; signal transduction.