Protein kinase CK2 signal in neoplasia

Histol Histopathol. 2001 Apr;16(2):573-82. doi: 10.14670/HH-16.573.


Protein kinase CK2 (previously known as casein kinase II) is a protein serine/threonine kinase that has been implicated in cell growth and proliferation. The focus of this review is on the apparent role of CK2 in cancer. Studies from several laboratories have shown a dysregulated expression of the kinase in tumors. Nuclear matrix and chromatin appear to be key sites for signaling of the CK2 activity in relation to cell growth. Several types of growth stimuli produce a common downstream response in CK2 by enhancing its nuclear shuttling. The neoplastic change is also associated with changes in intracellular localization of the kinase so that a higher nuclear localization is observed in tumor cells compared with normal cells. Experimental studies suggest that dysregulated expression of the alpha subunit of CK2 imparts an oncogenic potential in the cells such that in cooperation with certain oncogenes it produces a profound enhancement of the tumor phenotype. Recent studies have provided evidence that overexpression of CK2 in tumor cells is not simply a reflection of tumor cell proliferation alone but additionally may reflect the pathobiological characteristics of the tumor. Of considerable interest is the possibility that CK2 dysregulation in tumors may influence the apoptotic activity in those cells. Approaches to interfering with the CK2 signal may provide a useful means for inducing tumor cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Casein Kinase II
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Matrix / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Chromatin
  • Casein Kinase II
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases