Phosphorylation of murine caspase-9 by the protein kinase casein kinase 2 regulates its cleavage by caspase-8

Maureen A. McDonnell, Md Joynal Abedin, Manuel Melendez, Teodora N. Platikanova, Johanna R. Ecklund, Khalil Ahmed, Ameeta Kelekar

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55 Scopus citations


Previous studies from our laboratory had indicated that cytochrome c-independent processing and activation of caspase-9 by caspase-8 contributed to early amplification of the caspase cascade in tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-treated murine cells. Here we show that murine caspase-9 is phosphorylated by casein kinase 2 (CK2) on a serine near the site of caspase-8 cleavage. CK2 has been shown to regulate cleavage of the pro-apoptotic Bid protein by phosphorylating serine residues near its caspase-8 cleavage site. Similarly, CK2 modification of Ser348 on caspase-9 appears to render the protease refractory to cleavage by active caspase-8. This phosphorylation did not affect the ability of caspase-9 to autoprocess. Substitution of Ser 348 abolished phosphorylation but not cleavage, and a phospho-site mutant promoted apoptosis in TNF-α-treated caspase-9 knock-out mouse embryo fibroblasts. Furthermore, inhibition of CK2 activity and RNA interference-mediated knockdown of the kinase accelerated caspase-9 activation, whereas phosphatase inhibition delayed both caspase-9 activation and death in response to TNF receptor occupation. Taken together, these studies show that TNF receptor cross-linking promotes dephosphorylation of caspase-9, rendering it susceptible to processing by activated caspase-8 protein. Thus, our data suggest that modification of procaspase-9 to protect it from inappropriate cleavage and activation is yet another mechanism by which the oncogenic kinase CK2 promotes survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20149-20158
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 18 2008


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