MARCKS (myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate) is a prominent PKC substrate expressed in all eukaryotic cells. It is known to bind to and cross-link actin filaments, to serve as a bridge between Ca2+/calmodulin and PKC signaling, and to sequester the signaling molecule phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate in the plasma membrane. Since the mid-1980s, this evolutionarily conserved and ubiquitously expressed protein has been associated with regulating cellular events that require dynamic actin reorganization, including cellular adhesion, migration, and exocytosis. More recently, translational studies have implicated MARCKS in the pathophysiology of a number of airway diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, lung cancer, and acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome. This article summarizes the structure and cellular function of MARCKS (also including MARCKS family proteins and MARCKSL1 [MARCKS-like protein 1]). Evidence for MARCKS's role in several lung diseases is discussed, as are the technological innovations that took MARCKS-targeting strategies from theoretical to therapeutic. Descriptions and updates derived from ongoing clinical trials that are investigating inhalation of a MARCKS-targeting peptide as therapy for patients with chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, and ARDS are provided.
Keywords: MARCKS; cancer; inflammation; lung disease.