Pharmacological targeting of CDK9 in cardiac hypertrophy

Med Res Rev. 2010 Jul;30(4):646-66. doi: 10.1002/med.20172.


Cardiac hypertrophy allows the heart to adapt to workload, but persistent or unphysiological stimulus can result in pump failure. Cardiac hypertrophy is characterized by an increase in the size of differentiated cardiac myocytes. At the molecular level, growth of cells is linked to intensive transcription and translation. Several cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) have been identified as principal regulators of transcription, and among these CDK9 is directly associated with cardiac hypertrophy. CDK9 phosphorylates the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II and thus stimulates the elongation phase of transcription. Chronic activation of CDK9 causes not only cardiac myocyte enlargement but also confers predisposition to heart failure. Due to the long interest of molecular oncologists and medicinal chemists in CDKs as potential targets of anticancer drugs, a portfolio of small-molecule inhibitors of CDK9 is available. Recent determination of CDK9's crystal structure now allows the development of selective inhibitors and their further optimization in terms of biochemical potency and selectivity. CDK9 may therefore constitute a novel target for drugs against cardiac hypertrophy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cardiomegaly / drug therapy*
  • Cardiomegaly / enzymology*
  • Cyclin T / chemistry
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 9 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 9 / chemistry
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 9 / metabolism
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Cyclin T
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 9