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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50427. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050427. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

CK2-mediated hyperphosphorylation of topoisomerase I targets serine 506, enhances topoisomerase I-DNA binding, and increases cellular camptothecin sensitivity.

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  • 1Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, San Diego, California, United States of America.


Topoisomerase I is the target for a potent class of chemotherapeutic drugs derived from the plant alkaloid camptothecin that includes irinotecan and topotecan. In this study we have identified a novel site of CK2-mediated topoisomerase I (topo I) phosphorylation at serine 506 (PS506) that is relevant to topo I function and to cellular responses to these topo I-targeted drugs. CK2 treatment induced hyperphosphorylation of recombinant topo I and expression of the PS506 epitope, and resulted in increased binding of topo I to supercoiled plasmid DNA. Hyperphosphorylated topo I was approximately three times more effective than the basal phosphorylated enzyme at relaxing plasmid supercoils but had similar DNA cleavage activity once bound to DNA. The PS506 epitope was expressed in cancer cell lines with elevated CK2 activity, hyperphosphorylated topo I, and increased sensitivity to camptothecin. In contrast, PS506 was not detected in normal cells or cancer cell lines with lower levels of CK2 activity. By experimentally manipulating CK2 activity in cancer cell lines, we demonstrate a cause and effect relationship between CK2 activity, PS506 expression, camptothecin-induced cellular DNA damage, and cellular camptothecin sensitivity. Our results show that the PS506 epitope is an indicator of dysregulated, hyperphosphorylated topo I in cancer cells, and may thus serve as a diagnostic or prognostic biomarker and predict tumor responsiveness to widely used topo I-targeted therapies.

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