Nemo-like kinase (NLK) is an evolutionarily conserved MAP kinase-related kinase. Although NLK was originally identified as a Drosophila gene affecting cell movement during eye development, recent studies show that NLK also contributes to cell proliferation, differentiation, and morphological changes during early embryogenesis and nervous system development in vertebrates. In addition, NLK has been reported to be involved in the development of several human cancers. NLK is able to play a role in multiple processes due to its capacity to regulate a diverse array of signaling pathways, including the Wnt/β-catenin, Activin, IL-6, and Notch signaling pathways. Although the molecular mechanisms that regulate NLK activity remain unclear, our recent research has presented a new model for NLK activation. Here, we summarize the current understanding of the function and regulation of NLK and discuss the aspects of NLK regulation that remain to be resolved.
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