Targeting CK2 for cancer therapy

Kashif A. Ahmad, Guixia Wang, Joel Slaton, Gretchen Unger, Khalil Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Protein kinase CK2 is a highly ubiquitous and conserved protein serine/threonine kinase that has been found to be involved not only in cell growth and proliferation, but also in suppression of apoptosis. CK2 is capable of dynamic intracellular shuttling in response to a variety of signals. It is localized in both the nucleus and cytoplasm in normal cells, but is particularly predominant in the nuclear compartment in cancer cells. CK2 has been found to be uniformly dysregulated in all the cancers that have been examined. Downregulation of CK2 by chemical or molecular methods promotes apoptosis in cells. We have shown that antisense CK2α is particularly potent in inducing apoptosis in cancer cells in culture as well as in xenograft models of cancer such as prostate cancer and squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck. The antisense CK2α oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) mediates tumor cell death in a dose- and time-dependent manner such that at an appropriate concentration of the antisense, a complete resolution of the xenograft tumor is observed. Interestingly, normal and benign cells (in culture as well as in vivo) demonstrate a relative resistance to the antisense CK2α ODN treatment, which raises the possibility of a significant therapeutic window for this therapy. Further, novel approaches such as the delivery of antisense CK2α ODN encapsulated in sub-50-nm tenascin nanocapsules have become available for its targeting specifically in cancer cells. Our studies minimize generally held concerns regarding suitability of CK2 as a target for cancer therapy and provide the first encouraging results for potential future application of this approach for cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1037-1043
Number of pages7
JournalAnti-Cancer Drugs
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Antisense CK2α
  • Antisense oligodeoxynucleotide
  • Apoptosis
  • CK2
  • Cancer cells
  • Nanocapsule
  • Nanoparticle
  • Protein kinase
  • Therapy
  • Xenograft cancer


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