The selectivity of inhibitors of protein kinase CK2: an update

Mario A Pagano, Jenny Bain, Zygmunt Kazimierczuk, Stefania Sarno, Maria Ruzzene, Giovanni Di Maira, Matthew Elliott, Andrzej Orzeszko, Giorgio Cozza, Flavio Meggio, Lorenzo A Pinna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Citations (Scopus)


CK2 (casein kinase 2) is a very pleiotropic serine/threonine protein kinase whose abnormally high constitutive activity has often been correlated to pathological conditions with special reference to neoplasia. The two most widely used cell permeable CK2 inhibitors, TBB (4,5,6,7-tetrabromo-1H-benzotriazole) and DMAT (2-dimethylamino-4,5,6,7-tetrabromo-1H-benzimidazole), are marketed as quite specific CK2 blockers. In the present study we show, by using a panel of approx. 80 protein kinases, that DMAT and its parent compound TBI (or TBBz; 4,5,6,7-tetrabromo-1H-benzimidazole) are potent inhibitors of several other kinases, with special reference to PIM (provirus integration site for Moloney murine leukaemia virus)1, PIM2, PIM3, PKD1 (protein kinase D1), HIPK2 (homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2) and DYRK1a (dual-specificity tyrosine-phosphorylated and -regulated kinase 1a). In contrast, TBB is significantly more selective toward CK2, although it also inhibits PIM1 and PIM3. In an attempt to improve selectivity towards CK2 a library of 68 TBB/TBI-related compounds have been tested for their ability to discriminate between CK2, PIM1, HIPK2 and DYRK1a, ending up with seven compounds whose efficacy toward CK2 is markedly higher than that toward the second most inhibited kinase. Two of these, K64 (3,4,5,6,7-pentabromo-1H-indazole) and K66 (1-carboxymethyl-2-dimethylamino-4,5,6,7-tetrabromo-benzimidazole), display an overall selectivity much higher than TBB and DMAT when tested on a panel of 80 kinases and display similar efficacy as inducers of apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-65
Number of pages13
JournalThe Biochemical journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • Animals
  • Benzimidazoles/pharmacology
  • Casein Kinase II/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Indazoles/pharmacology
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors/pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Triazoles/pharmacology


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