Mechanistic Basis for In Vivo Therapeutic Efficacy of CK2 Inhibitor CX-4945 in Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Protein Kinase CK2 (Casein Kinase 2 or CK2) is a constitutively active serine-threonine kinase overactive in human malignancies. Increased expression and activity of CK2 in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is associated with a poor outcome. CK2 promotes AML cell survival by impinging on multiple oncogen...

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Main Authors: Morgann Klink, Mohammad Atiqur Rahman, Chunhua Song, Pavan Kumar Dhanyamraju, Melanie Ehudin, Yali Ding, Sadie Steffens, Preeti Bhadauria, Soumya Iyer, Cesar Aliaga, Dhimant Desai, Suming Huang, David Claxton, Arati Sharma, Chandrika Gowda
Format: Article
Language:English
Published: MDPI AG 2021-03-01
Series:Cancers
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Online Access:https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6694/13/5/1127
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Summary:Protein Kinase CK2 (Casein Kinase 2 or CK2) is a constitutively active serine-threonine kinase overactive in human malignancies. Increased expression and activity of CK2 in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is associated with a poor outcome. CK2 promotes AML cell survival by impinging on multiple oncogenic signaling pathways. The selective small-molecule CK2 inhibitor CX-4945 has shown in vitro cytotoxicity in AML. Here, we report that CX-4945 has a strong in vivo therapeutic effect in preclinical models of AML. The analysis of genome-wide DNA-binding and gene expression in CX-4945 treated AML cells shows that one mechanism, by which CK2 inhibition exerts a therapeutic effect in AML, involves the revival of IKAROS tumor suppressor function. CK2 phosphorylates IKAROS and disrupts IKAROS’ transcriptional activity by impairing DNA-binding and association with chromatin modifiers. Here, we demonstrate that CK2 inhibition decreases IKAROS phosphorylation and restores IKAROS binding to DNA. Further functional experiments show that IKAROS negatively regulates the transcription of anti-apoptotic genes, including BCL-XL (B cell Lymphoma like–2 like 1, BCL2L1). CX-4945 restitutes the IKAROS-mediated repression of BCL-XL in vivo and sensitizes AML cells to apoptosis. Using CX-4945, alongside the cytotoxic chemotherapeutic drug daunorubicin, augments BCL-XL suppression and AML cell apoptosis. Overall, these results establish the in vivo therapeutic efficacy of CX-4945 in AML preclinical models and determine the role of CK2 and IKAROS in regulating apoptosis in AML. Furthermore, our study provides functional and mechanistic bases for the addition of CK2 inhibitors to AML therapy.
ISSN:2072-6694