The Rho-family GTPases Rho Rac and Cdc42 regulate many intracellular processes through their interaction with downstream effector proteins. The PAKs (p21-activated kinases) are a family of effector proteins for Rac and Cdc42. PAKs are important regulators of actin cytoskeletal dynamics, neurite outgrowth, cell survival, hormone signalling and gene transcription. There are six mammalian PAKs that can be divided into two groups: group I PAKs (PAK1–3) and group II PAKs (PAK4–6). Although the two PAK groups are architecturally similar, there are differences in their mode of regulation, suggesting that their cellular functions are likely to be different. Whereas much is known about group I PAKs, less is known about the more recently discovered PAK4, PAK5 and PAK6. This review will focus on the latest structural and functional results relating to the group II PAKs and discuss the emerging importance of group II PAKs in disease progression.

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