Therapeutic targeting of CK2 in acute and chronic leukemias

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CK2 is a ubiquitously expressed, constitutively active Ser/Thr protein kinase, which is considered the most pleiotropic protein kinase in the human kinome. Such a pleiotropy explains the involvement of CK2 in many cellular events. However, its predominant roles are stimulation of cell growth and prevention of apoptosis. High levels of CK2 messenger RNA and protein are associated with CK2 pathological functions in human cancers. Over the last decade, basic and translational studies have provided evidence of CK2 as a pivotal molecule driving the growth of different blood malignancies. CK2 overexpression has been demonstrated in nearly all the types of hematological cancers, including acute and chronic leukemias, where CK2 is a key regulator of signaling networks critical for cell proliferation, survival and drug resistance. The findings that emerged from these studies suggest that CK2 could be a valuable therapeutic target in leukemias and supported the initiation of clinical trials using CK2 antagonists. In this review, we summarize the recent advances on the understanding of the signaling pathways involved in CK2 inhibition-mediated effects with a particular emphasis on the combinatorial use of CK2 inhibitors as novel therapeutic strategies for treating both acute and chronic leukemia patients.

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