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Cardiac excitation and contraction are regulated by a variety of signaling molecules. Central to the regulatory scheme are protein kinases and phosphatases that carry out reversible phosphorylation of different effectors. The process of beta-adrenergic stimulation mediated by cAMP dependent protein kinase (PKA) forms a well-known pathway considered as the most significant control mechanism in excitation and contraction as well as many other regulatory mechanisms in cardiac function. However, although dephosphorylation pathways are critical to these regulatory processes, signaling to phosphatases is relatively poorly understood. Emerging evidence indicates that regulation of phosphatases, which dampen the effect of beta-adrenergic stimulation, is also important. We review here functional studies of p21 activated kinase-1 (Pak1) and its potential role as an upstream signal for protein phosphatase PP2A in the heart. Pak1 is a serine/threonine protein kinase directly activated by the small GTPases Cdc42 and Rac1. Pak1 is highly expressed in different regions of the heart and modulates the activities of ion channels, sarcomeric proteins, and other phosphoproteins through up-regulation of PP2A activity. Coordination of Pak1 and PP2A activities is not only potentially involved in regulation of normal cardiac function, but is likely to be important in patho-physiological conditions.

Original publication




Journal article


Prog Biophys Mol Biol

Publication Date





238 - 250


Animals, Arrhythmias, Cardiac, Dimerization, Electrophysiological Phenomena, Humans, Mice, Models, Cardiovascular, Myocardial Contraction, Myocardial Ischemia, Myocardium, Phosphorylation, Protein Phosphatase 2, Signal Transduction, p21-Activated Kinases