Molecular physiology of SPAK and OSR1: two Ste20-related protein kinases regulating ion transport.


SPAK (Ste20-related proline alanine rich kinase) and OSR1 (oxidative stress responsive kinase) are members of the germinal center kinase VI subfamily of the mammalian Ste20 (Sterile20)-related protein kinase family. Although there are 30 enzymes in this protein kinase family, their conservation across the fungi, plant, and animal kingdom confirms their evolutionary importance. Already, a large volume of work has accumulated on the tissue distribution, binding partners, signaling cascades, and physiological roles of mammalian SPAK and OSR1 in multiple organ systems. After reviewing this basic information, we will examine newer studies that demonstrate the pathophysiological consequences to SPAK and/or OSR1 disruption, discuss the development and analysis of genetically engineered mouse models, and address the possible role these serine/threonine kinases might have in cancer proliferation and migration.