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World J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 26;2(6):126-31. doi: 10.4331/wjbc.v2.i6.126.

Regulation of Ikaros function by casein kinase 2 and protein phosphatase 1.

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  • 1Chunhua Song, Zhanjun Li, Sinisa Dovat, Department of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033-0850, United States.


The Ikaros gene encodes a zinc finger, DNA-binding protein that regulates gene transcription and chromatin remodeling. Ikaros is a master regulator of hematopoiesis and an established tumor suppressor. Moderate alteration of Ikaros activity (e.g. haploinsufficiency) appears to be sufficient to promote malignant transformation in human hematopoietic cells. This raises questions about the mechanisms that normally regulate Ikaros function and the potential of these mechanisms to contribute to the development of leukemia. The focus of this review is the regulation of Ikaros function by phosphorylation/dephosphorylation. Site-specific phosphorylation of Ikaros by casein kinase 2 (CK2) controls Ikaros DNA-binding ability and subcellular localization. As a consequence, the ability of Ikaros to regulate cell cycle progression, chromatin remodeling, target gene expression, and thymocyte differentiation are controlled by CK2. In addition, hyperphosphorylation of Ikaros by CK2 leads to decreased Ikaros levels due to ubiquitin-mediated degradation. Dephosphorylation of Ikaros by protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) acts in opposition to CK2 to increase Ikaros stability and restore Ikaros DNA binding ability and pericentromeric localization. Thus, the CK2 and PP1 pathways act in concert to regulate Ikaros activity in hematopoiesis and as a tumor suppressor. This highlights the importance of these signal transduction pathways as potential mediators of leukemogenesis via their role in regulating the activities of Ikaros.


Casein kinase 2; Ikaros; Leukemia; Phosphorylation; Protein phosphatase 1; Transcription factor; Zinc finger

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