The multiple personalities of the regulatory subunit of protein kinase CK2: CK2 dependent and CK2 independent roles reveal a secret identity for CK2beta

Int J Biol Sci. 2005;1(2):67-79. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.1.67. Epub 2005 Apr 1.


Protein kinase CK2 (formerly casein kinase II), an enzyme that participates in a wide variety of cellular processes, has traditionally been classified as a stable tetrameric complex consisting of two catalytic CK2alpha or CK2alpha' subunits and two regulatory CK2beta subunits. While consideration of CK2 as a tetrameric complex remains relevant, significant evidence has emerged to challenge the view that its individual subunits exist exclusively within these complexes. This review will summarize biochemical and genetic evidence indicating that the regulatory CK2beta subunit exists and performs functions independently of CK2 tetramers. For example, unbalanced expression of catalytic and regulatory CK2 subunits has been observed in a variety of tissues and tumors. Furthermore, localization studies including live cell imaging have demonstrated that while the catalytic and regulatory subunits of CK2 exhibit extensive co-localization, independent mobility of the individual CK2 subunits can also be observed within cells. Identification of proteins that interact with CK2beta in the absence of catalytic CK2 subunits reinforces the notion that CK2beta has functions distinct from CK2 and begins to offer insights into these CK2-independent functions. In this respect, the discovery that CK2beta can interact with and modulate the activity of a number of other serine/threonine protein kinases including A-Raf, c-Mos and Chk1 is particularly striking. This review will discuss the interactions between CK2beta and these protein kinases with special emphasis on the properties of CK2beta that mediate these interactions and on the implications of these interactions in yielding new prospects for elucidation of the cellular functions of CK2beta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Casein Kinase II / chemistry
  • Casein Kinase II / genetics
  • Casein Kinase II / physiology*
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cell Cycle
  • Eukaryotic Cells / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein Subunits
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / physiology
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Protein Subunits
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Casein Kinase II
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases