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Oncogene. 2001 Apr 12;20(16):2010-22.

A role for protein kinase CK2 in cell proliferation: evidence using a kinase-inactive mutant of CK2 catalytic subunit alpha.

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INSERM U244, DBMS/BRCE CEA Grenoble, 17 rue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble Cedex 9, France.


Protein kinase CK2 is an ubiquitous and pleiotropic Ser/Thr protein kinase composed of two catalytic (alpha and/or alpha') and two regulatory (beta) subunits generally combined to form alpha(2)beta(2), alphaalpha'beta(2), or alpha'(2)beta(2) heterotetramers. To gain more insight into the role of CK2 in the control of proliferation in mammalian cells, overexpression of isolated CK2 subunits alpha, alpha', or beta was carried out in two fibroblast cell lines: NIH3T3 and CCL39. To interfere with CK2 cellular functions, cells were also transfected with a kinase-inactive mutant of CK2alpha catalytic subunit: CK2alpha-K68A. In NIH3T3 cells, overexpression of either wild-type subunit (alpha, alpha' or beta) had no effect on cell proliferation. In contrast, overexpression of the CK2alpha kinase-deficient mutant induced a marked inhibition of cell proliferation. This resulted from a defect in G1/S progression as demonstrated in transient transfection experiments in both NIH3T3 and CCL39 cells using BrdU incorporation measurements and in CCL39 clones stably overexpressing the CK2alpha-K68A mutant by growth curve analysis. We demonstrated that the kinase-negative mutant has the capacity to integrate the endogenous CK2 subunit pool both as an isolated kinase-inactive alpha subunit and as associated to the beta subunit in a kinase-inactive tetramer. Finally we showed that expression of the kinase-inactive mutant interferes with phosphorylation of an endogenous CK2 substrate; we speculate that optimal phosphorylation of target proteins by CK2 is required to achieve optimal cell cycle progression.

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