Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Casein kinase II controls TBK1/IRF3 activation in IFN response against viral infection.

PMID 25810395


By sensing viral nucleic acids, host innate receptors elicit signaling pathways converging on TBK1-IFN regulatory factor (IRF)3 axis in mediating IFN-αβ induction and defense mechanisms. In contrast, viruses have evolved with diverse immune evasion/interference mechanisms to undermine innate receptor signaling and IFN response. In this regard, approaches enabling host to overcome such immune evasion/interference mechanisms are urgently needed to combat infections by epidemic/pandemic viruses. In this study, we report that protein kinase CK2 serves as a key component controlling TBK1 and IRF3 activation in IFN-inducing TLR, RIG-I-like receptors, and cGAS/STING signaling pathways. Accordingly, knocking down of CK2 expression or genetic ablation of its kinase activity resulted in elevated IFN-αβ response in response to infection by DNA and RNA viruses. Moreover, PP2A was identified as one of the intermediate phosphatases responsible for CK2-regulated IFN response, suggesting that CK2 may regulate TBK1 and IRF3 activation indirectly. Importantly, blockade of CK2 activity by small molecule inhibitor was able to activate TBK1, whereby eliciting effective host defense mechanisms against hepatitis C virus infection. Taken together, our results identify CK2 as a novel regulator of TBK1 and IRF3 and suggest that targeting CK2 by small molecular inhibitor may be a viable approach to prevent and treat viral infections.