PAKs are a family of serine/threonine protein kinases activated by small GTPases of the Rho family, including Rac and Cdc42, and are categorized into group I (isoforms 1, 2 and 3) and group II (isoforms 4, 5 and 6). PAK1 and PAK3 are critically involved in biological mechanisms associated with neurodevelopment, neuroplasticity and maturation of the nervous system, and changes in their activity have been detected in pathological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease and mental retardation. The group I PAKs have been associated with neurological processes due to their involvement in intracellular mechanisms that result in molecular and cellular morphological alterations that promote cytoskeletal outgrowth, increasing the efficiency of synaptic transmission. Their substrates in these processes include other intracellular signaling molecules, such as Raf, Mek and LIMK, as well as other components of the cytoskeleton, such as MLC and FLNa. In this review, we describe the characteristics of group I PAKs, such as their molecular structure, mechanisms of activation and importance in the neurobiological processes involved in synaptic plasticity.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Huntington's disease