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Prog Neurobiol. 2000 Feb;60(3):211-46.

Casein kinase 2 as a potentially important enzyme in the nervous system.

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Unité de Recherche de Physiopharmacologie du Système Nerveux, U-161 INSERM, Paris, France.


Protein kinase CK2 is a ubiquitous and pleiotropic seryl/threonyl protein kinase which is highly conserved in evolution indicating a vital cellular role for this kinase. The holoenzyme is generally composed of two catalytic (alpha and/or alpha') and two regulatory (beta) subunits, but the free alpha/alpha' subunits are catalytically active by themselves and can be present in cells under some circumstances. Special attention has been devoted to phosphorylation status and structure of these enzymic molecules, however, their regulation and roles remain intriguing. Until recently, CK2 was believed to represent a kinase especially required for cell cycle progression in non-neural cells. At present, with respect to recent findings, four essential features suggest potentially important roles for this enzyme in specific neural functions: (1) CK2 is much more abundant in brain than in any other tissue; (2) there appear to be a myriad of substrates for CK2 in both synaptic and nuclear compartments that have clear implications in development, neuritogenesis, synaptic transmission, synaptic plasticity, information storage and survival; (3) CK2 seems to be associated with mechanisms underlying long-term potentiation in hippocampus; and (4) neurotrophins stimulate activity of CK2 in hippocampus. In addition, some data are suggestive that CK2 might play a role in processes underlying progressive disorders due to Alzheimer's disease, ischemia, chronic alcohol exposure or immunodeficiency virus HIV. The present review focuses mainly on the latest data concerning the regulatory mechanisms and the possible neurophysiological functions of this enzyme.

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