The myristoylated alanine-rich C-kinase substrates (MARCKS): A membrane-anchored mediator of the cell function

Zhilei Chen, Weici Zhang, Carlo F Selmi, William M. Ridgway, Patrick S.C. Leung, Fengchun Zhang, M. Eric Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The myristoylated alanine-rich C-kinase substrate (MARCKS) and the MARCKS-related protein (MARCKSL1) are ubiquitous, highly conserved membrane-associated proteins involved in the structural modulation of the actin cytoskeleton, chemotaxis, motility, cell adhesion, phagocytosis, and exocytosis. MARCKS includes an N-terminal myristoylated domain for membrane binding, a highly conserved MARCKS Homology 2 (MH2) domain, and an effector domain (which is the phosphorylation site). MARCKS can sequester phosphatidylinositol-4, 5-diphosphate (PIP2) at lipid rafts in the plasma membrane of quiescent cells, an action reversed by protein kinase C (PKC), ultimately modulating the immune function. Being expressed mostly in innate immune cells, MARCKS promotes the inflammation-driven migration and adhesion of cells and the secretion of cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF). From a clinical point of view, MARCKS is overexpressed in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, while the brain level of MARCKS phosphorylation is associated with Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, MARCKS is associated with the development and progression of numerous types of cancers. Data in autoimmune diseases are limited to rheumatoid arthritis models in which a connection between MARCKS and the JAK-STAT pathway is mediated by miRNAs. We provide a comprehensive overview of the structure of MARCKS, its molecular characteristics and functions from a biological and pathogenetic standpoint, and will discuss the clinical implications of this pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102942
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Autoimmunity
  • Cancer
  • Cell function
  • Dementia
  • Immune modulation
  • Inflammation
  • Personalized medicine
  • Protein kinase C
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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