Protein kinase CK2 in mammary gland tumorigenesis

Oncogene. 2001 May 31;20(25):3247-57. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1204411.


Protein kinase CK2 is a ubiquitous and evolutionarily conserved serine/threonine kinase that is upregulated in many human cancers and can serve as an oncogene in lymphocytes. Recently, we have demonstrated that CK2 potentiates Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in mammary epithelial cells. To determine whether CK2 overexpression contributes to mammary tumorigenesis, we have performed comparative studies of human and rat breast cancer specimens and we have engineered transgenic mice with dysregulated expression of CK2alpha in the mammary gland. We find that CK2 is highly expressed in human breast tumor specimens and in carcinogen-induced rat mammary tumors. Overexpression of CK2alpha in the mammary gland of transgenic mice, under control of the MMTV-LTR, causes hyperplasia and dysplasia of the female mammary gland. Thirty per cent of the female MMTV-CK2alpha transgenic mice develop mammary adenocarcinomas at a median of 23 months of age, often associated with Wnt pathway activation, as evidenced by upregulation of beta-catenin protein. NF-kappaB activation and upregulation of c-Myc also occur frequently. Thus, in mice, rats, and humans, dysregulated expression of CK2 is associated with and is capable of contributing to mammary tumorigenesis. Targeted inhibition of CK2 could be useful in the treatment of breast cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Age of Onset
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Casein Kinase II
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibrocystic Breast Disease
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Lactation
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / pathology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / chemically induced
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / etiology*
  • Mammary Tumor Virus, Mouse / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / biosynthesis*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators*
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins*
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, mouse
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Trans-Activators
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Casein Kinase II
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases