Extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 5 (ERK5), also termed big MAPK1 (BMK1), is the most recently discovered member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family. It is expressed in a variety of tissues and is activated by a range of growth factors, cytokines and cellular stresses. Targeted deletion of Erk5 in mice has revealed that the ERK5 signalling cascade is critical for normal cardiovascular development and vascular integrity. In vitro studies have revealed that, in endothelial cells, ERK5 is required for preventing apoptosis, mediating shear-stress signalling and regulating tumour angiogenesis. The present review focuses on our current understanding of the role of ERK5 in regulating endothelial cell function.

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