Skip navigation

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

URL of this page:

LIMK1 gene

LIM domain kinase 1

Normal Function

The LIMK1 gene provides instructions for making a protein that is highly active in the brain, where it is thought to be involved in the growth and development of nerve cells. Studies suggest that this protein may play an important role in areas of the brain that are responsible for processing visual-spatial information (visuospatial constructive cognition). These parts of the brain are important for visualizing an object as a set of parts and performing tasks such as writing, drawing, constructing models, and assembling puzzles.

Within cells, the LIMK1 protein likely regulates aspects of the cytoskeleton, the structural framework that helps to determine cell shape, size, and movement. The LIMK1 protein helps control the organization of actin filaments, which are long, thin fibers that are part of the cytoskeleton. Actin filaments are necessary for several normal cellular functions, such as cell division, cell movement (motility), maintenance of cell shape, transport of proteins and other molecules within cells, and chemical signaling between cells.

Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes

Williams syndrome

The LIMK1 gene is located in a region of chromosome 7 that is deleted in people with Williams syndrome, which is a developmental disorder characterized by mild to moderate intellectual disability or learning problems, unique personality characteristics, distinctive facial features, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) problems. As a result of the deletion, people with Williams syndrome are missing one copy of the LIMK1 gene in each cell. Some studies suggest that a loss of this gene contributes to the characteristic problems with visual-spatial tasks (such as writing and drawing) seen in Williams syndrome; however, other studies have not found this connection. Researchers are working to determine how a reduction in the amount of LIMK1 protein could be related to the specific impairments seen in Williams syndrome.

More About This Health Condition


The LIMK1 protein is produced at unusually high levels (overexpressed) in some cancerous tumors.  For example, increased amounts of this protein have been found in a form of skin cancer called melanoma and in ovarian cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer. Researchers believe that high levels of the LIMK1 protein may be associated with changes in the organization of actin filaments and an increased chance that a tumor will invade other tissues.

Other Names for This Gene

  • LIM kinase
  • LIM kinase 1
  • LIM motif-containing protein kinase
  • LIMK
  • LIMK-1

Additional Information & Resources

Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry

Scientific Articles on PubMed

Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM

Gene and Variant Databases


  • Davila M, Frost AR, Grizzle WE, Chakrabarti R. LIM kinase 1 is essential for the invasive growth of prostate epithelial cells: implications in prostate cancer. J Biol Chem. 2003 Sep 19;278(38):36868-75. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M306196200. Epub 2003 Jun 23. Citation on PubMed
  • Davila M, Jhala D, Ghosh D, Grizzle WE, Chakrabarti R. Expression of LIM kinase 1 is associated with reversible G1/S phase arrest, chromosomal instability and prostate cancer. Mol Cancer. 2007 Jun 8;6:40. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-6-40. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Frangiskakis JM, Ewart AK, Morris CA, Mervis CB, Bertrand J, Robinson BF, Klein BP, Ensing GJ, Everett LA, Green ED, Proschel C, Gutowski NJ, Noble M, Atkinson DL, Odelberg SJ, Keating MT. LIM-kinase1 hemizygosity implicated in impaired visuospatial constructive cognition. Cell. 1996 Jul 12;86(1):59-69. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)80077-x. Citation on PubMed
  • Gray V, Karmiloff-Smith A, Funnell E, Tassabehji M. In-depth analysis of spatial cognition in Williams syndrome: A critical assessment of the role of the LIMK1 gene. Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(5):679-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2005.08.007. Epub 2005 Oct 10. Citation on PubMed
  • Gregory MD, Mervis CB, Elliott ML, Kippenhan JS, Nash T, B Czarapata J, Prabhakaran R, Roe K, Eisenberg DP, Kohn PD, Berman KF. Williams syndrome hemideletion and LIMK1 variation both affect dorsal stream functional connectivity. Brain. 2019 Dec 1;142(12):3963-3974. doi: 10.1093/brain/awz323. Citation on PubMed
  • Hoogenraad CC, Akhmanova A, Galjart N, De Zeeuw CI. LIMK1 and CLIP-115: linking cytoskeletal defects to Williams syndrome. Bioessays. 2004 Feb;26(2):141-50. doi: 10.1002/bies.10402. Citation on PubMed
  • Kozel BA, Barak B, Kim CA, Mervis CB, Osborne LR, Porter M, Pober BR. Williams syndrome. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2021 Jun 17;7(1):42. doi: 10.1038/s41572-021-00276-z. Citation on PubMed
  • Meyer-Lindenberg A, Mervis CB, Sarpal D, Koch P, Steele S, Kohn P, Marenco S, Morris CA, Das S, Kippenhan S, Mattay VS, Weinberger DR, Berman KF. Functional, structural, and metabolic abnormalities of the hippocampal formation in Williams syndrome. J Clin Invest. 2005 Jul;115(7):1888-95. doi: 10.1172/JCI24892. Epub 2005 Jun 9. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Morris CA. Williams Syndrome. 1999 Apr 9 [updated 2023 Apr 13]. In: Adam MP, Feldman J, Mirzaa GM, Pagon RA, Wallace SE, Bean LJH, Gripp KW, Amemiya A, editors. GeneReviews(R) [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2024. Available from Citation on PubMed
  • Ravindran S, Nalavadi VC, Muddashetty RS. BDNF Induced Translation of Limk1 in Developing Neurons Regulates Dendrite Growth by Fine-Tuning Cofilin1 Activity. Front Mol Neurosci. 2019 Mar 20;12:64. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2019.00064. eCollection 2019. Citation on PubMed
  • Rosso S, Bollati F, Bisbal M, Peretti D, Sumi T, Nakamura T, Quiroga S, Ferreira A, Caceres A. LIMK1 regulates Golgi dynamics, traffic of Golgi-derived vesicles, and process extension in primary cultured neurons. Mol Biol Cell. 2004 Jul;15(7):3433-49. doi: 10.1091/mbc.e03-05-0328. Epub 2004 Apr 16. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Scott RW, Olson MF. LIM kinases: function, regulation and association with human disease. J Mol Med (Berl). 2007 Jun;85(6):555-68. doi: 10.1007/s00109-007-0165-6. Epub 2007 Feb 10. Citation on PubMed
  • Stanyon CA, Bernard O. LIM-kinase1. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 1999 Mar-Apr;31(3-4):389-94. doi: 10.1016/s1357-2725(98)00116-2. Citation on PubMed
  • Tassabehji M. Williams-Beuren syndrome: a challenge for genotype-phenotype correlations. Hum Mol Genet. 2003 Oct 15;12 Spec No 2:R229-37. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddg299. Epub 2003 Sep 2. Citation on PubMed
  • Todorovski Z, Asrar S, Liu J, Saw NM, Joshi K, Cortez MA, Snead OC 3rd, Xie W, Jia Z. LIMK1 regulates long-term memory and synaptic plasticity via the transcriptional factor CREB. Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Apr;35(8):1316-28. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01263-14. Epub 2015 Feb 2. Citation on PubMed
  • Yoshioka K, Foletta V, Bernard O, Itoh K. A role for LIM kinase in cancer invasion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Jun 10;100(12):7247-52. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1232344100. Epub 2003 May 30. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.