Protein kinase CK2 – diverse roles in cancer cell biology and therapeutic promise

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The association of protein kinase CK2 (formerly casein kinase II or 2) with cell growth and proliferation in cells was apparent at early stages of its investigation. A cancer-specific role for CK2 remained unclear until it was determined that CK2 was also a potent suppressor of cell death (apoptosis); the latter characteristic differentiated its function in normal versus malignant cells because dysregulation of both cell growth and cell death is a universal feature of cancer cells. Over time, it became evident that CK2 exerts its influence on a diverse range of cell functions in normal as well as in transformed cells. As such, CK2 and its substrates are localized in various compartments of the cell. The dysregulation of CK2 is documented in a wide range of malignancies; notably, by increased CK2 protein and activity levels with relatively moderate change in its RNA abundance. High levels of CK2 are associated with poor prognosis in multiple cancer types, and CK2 is a target for active research and testing for cancer therapy. Aspects of CK2 cellular roles and targeting in cancer are discussed in the present review, with focus on nuclear and mitochondrial functions and prostate, breast and head and neck malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-926
Number of pages28
JournalMolecular and cellular biochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Original work was supported in part by Merit Review Award Number I01 BX003282 from the United States (U.S.) Department of Veterans Affairs Biomedical Laboratory R&D (BLRD) Service (K.A.), and in part by research grants RO1CA15062 and R01CA150182 awarded by the National Cancer Institute, NIH, Department of Health and Human Services (K.A.).

Funding Information:
K.A. holds the title of Senior Research Career Scientist awarded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply.


  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer
  • Cancer therapy
  • Cell death
  • Chromatin
  • Intracellular shuttling
  • Mitochondria
  • Nuclear matrix
  • Nucleolus
  • Nucleus
  • Progression
  • Protein kinase CK2
  • Splicing
  • Transcription

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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