Structural Insights Support Targeting ASK1 Kinase for Therapeutic Interventions

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Dec 13;22(24):13395. doi: 10.3390/ijms222413395.


Apoptosis signal-regulating kinase (ASK) 1, a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAP3K) family, modulates diverse responses to oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and calcium influx. As a crucial cellular stress sensor, ASK1 activates c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) and p38 MAPKs. Their excessive and sustained activation leads to cell death, inflammation and fibrosis in various tissues and is implicated in the development of many neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in addition to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. However, currently available inhibitors of JNK and p38 kinases either lack efficacy or have undesirable side effects. Therefore, targeted inhibition of their upstream activator, ASK1, stands out as a promising therapeutic strategy for treating such severe pathological conditions. This review summarizes recent structural findings on ASK1 regulation and its role in various diseases, highlighting prospects for ASK1 inhibition in the treatment of these pathologies.

Keywords: 14-3-3; ASK1; MAP kinase; kinase; phosphorylation; protein–protein interaction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 14-3-3 Proteins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 5 / genetics
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 5 / metabolism*
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 5 / physiology*
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 5 / ultrastructure
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases / genetics
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Interaction Maps / genetics
  • Protein Interaction Maps / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • 14-3-3 Proteins
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 5
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases
  • MAP3K5 protein, human