Death associated protein kinase (DAPK) is a calcium/calmodulin-regulated serine/threonine kinase; its main function is to regulate cell death. DAPK family proteins consist of DAPK1, DAPK2, DAPK3, DAPK-related apoptosis-inducing protein kinases (DRAK)-1 and DRAK-2. In this review, we discuss the roles and regulatory mechanisms of DAPK family members and their relevance to diseases. Furthermore, a special focus is given to several reports describing cross-talks between DAPKs and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) family members in various pathologies. We also discuss small molecule inhibitors of DAPKs and their potential as therapeutic targets against human diseases.
Keywords: DAPK; ERK; JNK; MAPK; p38.