Document Type


Date of Original Version



Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Protein kinases are enzymes that covalently modify proteins by attaching phosphate groups (from ATP) to serine, threonine, and/or tyrosine residues. In so doing, the functional properties of the protein kinase’s substrates are modified. Protein kinases transduce signals from the cell membrane into the interior of the cell. Such signals include not only those arising from ligand–receptor interactions but also environmental perturbations such as when the membrane undergoes mechanical deformation (ie, cell stretch or shear stress). Ultimately, the activation of signaling pathways that use protein kinases often culminates in the reprogramming of gene expression through the direct regulation of transcription factors or through the regulation of mRNA stability or protein translation. Protein kinases regulate most aspects of normal cellular function. The pathophysiological dysfunction of protein kinase signaling pathways underlies the molecular basis of many cancers and of several manifestations of cardiovascular disease, such as hypertrophy and other types of left ventricular remodeling, ischemia/reperfusion injury, angiogenesis, and atherogenesis. Given their roles in such a wide variety of disease states, protein kinases are rapidly becoming extremely attractive targets for drug discovery, probably second only to heterotrimeric G protein– coupled receptors (eg, angiotensin II). Here, we will review the reasons for this explosion in interest in inhibitors of protein kinases and will describe the process of identifying novel drugs directed against kinases. We will specifically focus on disease states for which drug development has proceeded to the point of clinical or advanced preclinical studies.