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1.  Downregulation of protein kinase CK2 induces autophagic cell death through modulation of the mTOR and MAPK signaling pathways in human glioblastoma cells 
International Journal of Oncology  2012;41(6):1967-1976.
Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common primary brain tumor and one of the most aggressive types of cancer in adults. Survival signaling and apoptosis resistance are hallmarks of malignant glioma cells. However, recent studies have shown that other types of cell death such as autophagy can be induced in malignant glioma cells. This suggests that stimulation of this process may be explored in new therapeutic strategies against glioblastoma multiforme. Protein kinase CK2 is a highly conserved and constitutively active enzyme that promotes numerous cellular processes such as survival, proliferation and differentiation. CK2 has been found elevated in several malignancies including brain tumors, and to confer resistance against chemotherapeutic agents and apoptotic stimuli. Recently, we have shown that the siRNA-mediated downregulation of CK2 leads to cell death in DNA-PK-proficient human glioblastoma cells. We show, here, that lack of CK2 results in significant induction of autophagic cell death in two human glioblastoma cell lines, M059K and T98G, as indicated by the positive staining of cells with the acidotropic dye acridine orange, and the specific recruitment of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3) to autophagosome membranes. Induction of autophagy is accompanied by CK2-dependent decreased phosphorylation of p70 ribosomal S6 and AKT kinases and significantly reduced expression levels of Raptor. In contrast, phosphorylation and activity levels of ERK1/2 are enhanced suggesting an inhibition of the PI3K/AKT/mTORC1 and activation of the ERK1/2 pathways. Furthermore, siRNA-mediated silencing of CK2 results in increased mitochondrial superoxide production in both glioblastoma cell lines. However, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species release correlates with induction of autophagy only in T98G cells. Taken together, our findings identify CK2 as a novel component of the autophagic machinery and underline the potential of its downregulation to kill glioblastoma cells by overcoming the resistance to multiple anticancer agents.
PMCID: PMC3583692  PMID: 23007634
glioblastoma cells; autophagy; CK2; mammalian target of rapamycin; extracellular signaling-regulated protein kinase 1/2; reactive oxygen species
2.  Protein kinase CK2 localizes to sites of DNA double-strand break regulating the cellular response to DNA damage 
The DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) is a nuclear complex composed of a large catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) and a heterodimeric DNA-targeting subunit Ku. DNA-PK is a major component of the non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) repair mechanism, which is activated in the presence of DNA double-strand breaks induced by ionizing radiation, reactive oxygen species and radiomimetic drugs. We have recently reported that down-regulation of protein kinase CK2 by siRNA interference results in enhanced cell death specifically in DNA-PKcs-proficient human glioblastoma cells, and this event is accompanied by decreased autophosphorylation of DNA-PKcs at S2056 and delayed repair of DNA double-strand breaks.
In the present study, we show that CK2 co-localizes with phosphorylated histone H2AX to sites of DNA damage and while CK2 gene knockdown is associated with delayed DNA damage repair, its overexpression accelerates this process. We report for the first time evidence that lack of CK2 destabilizes the interaction of DNA-PKcs with DNA and with Ku80 at sites of genetic lesions. Furthermore, we show that CK2 regulates the phosphorylation levels of DNA-PKcs only in response to direct induction of DNA double-strand breaks.
Taken together, these results strongly indicate that CK2 plays a prominent role in NHEJ by facilitating and/or stabilizing the binding of DNA-PKcs and, possibly other repair proteins, to the DNA ends contributing to efficient DNA damage repair in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC3316135  PMID: 22404984
3.  Disruption of the Regulatory β Subunit of Protein Kinase CK2 in Mice Leads to a Cell-Autonomous Defect and Early Embryonic Lethality 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(3):908-915.
Protein kinase CK2 is a ubiquitous protein kinase implicated in proliferation and cell survival. Its regulatory β subunit, CK2β, which is encoded by a single gene in mammals, has been suspected of regulating other protein kinases. In this work, we show that knockout of the CK2β gene in mice leads to postimplantation lethality. Mutant embryos were reduced in size at embryonic day 6.5 (E6.5). They did not exhibit signs of apoptosis but did show reduced cell proliferation. Mutant embryos were resorbed at E7.5. In vitro, CK2β−/− morula development stopped after the blastocyst stage. Attempts to generate homozygous embryonic stem (ES) cells failed. By using a conditional knockout approach, we show that lack of CK2β is deleterious for mouse ES cells and primary embryonic fibroblasts. This is in contrast to what occurs with yeast cells, which can survive without functional CK2β. Thus, our study demonstrates that in mammals, CK2β is essential for viability at the cellular level, possibly because it acquired new functions during evolution.
PMCID: PMC140710  PMID: 12529396

Results 1-3 (3)