CK2??, one of two catalytic subunits of human protein kinase CK2 holoenzyme, is inappropriately upregulated in cellular and animal models of Huntington?s disease (HD), and in human patients with HD. There are currently no selective inhibitors for CK2?? available. Our work shows that CK2?? is involved in the hyperphosphorylation and degradation of the stress protective Heat Shock transcription Factor 1 (HSF1). HSF1 has several protective roles in vivo, including regulation of stress protective chaperones and synaptic proteins, and energy metabolism. HSF1 levels are increased in an HD mouse model lacking one allele of CK2?? (zQ175 HD), leading to increased chaperone expression and excitatory synapse density, decreased HTT aggregates and inflammation, and improved motor behavior. Given these exciting and promising results, we are initiating a program to identify selective allosteric inhibitors of CK2?? that can serve as chemical probes for in vitro and in vivo target validation studies. The single specific aim of this exploratory project is to identify and characterize allosteric inhibitors of CK2?? that can serve as leads for selective probe development. Herein, we propose to employ an ADP-GloTM luminescence high-throughput screen of the ChemDiv Allosteric Kinase Inhibitor (CDAKI) Library, increasing the likelihood that we will discover a small-molecule that binds allosterically to CK2??. Active compounds will be further characterized by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and x-ray crystallography. Confirmed active compounds will be validated using SAR (structure-activity relationship) by commerce. Our working hypothesis is that this library of known allosteric kinase inhibitors will generate excellent starting points for structurally-enabled compound development leading to selective allosteric probes. The potential impact of this project on human health is considerable. There is an unmet medical need for therapeutic agents that can halt or reverse the cognitive and motor decline associated with HD. This work will have a positive impact on the field as it will provide a path toward chemical probes for the validation of a new target for therapeutic development. The eventual development of a selective allosteric inhibitor of CK2?? would address this unmet medical need and represent a significant advancement in the field of HD.

Public Health Relevance

This work targets the inhibition of an enzyme (CK2??) that is upregulated in the brains of Huntington?s disease (HD) patients, promoting the degradation of protective proteins. This research will provide an excellent foundation for the validation of this target as therapeutically relevant in HD, and allow for the future development of new drugs that halt or reverse the cognitive and motor decline associated with HD.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Macromolecular Structure and Function A Study Section (MSFA)
Program Officer
Miller, Daniel L
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Schools of Pharmacy
United States
Zip Code