Casein Kinase 2 Signaling in White Matter Stroke

Hung Nguyen, Wenbin Zhu, Selva Baltan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The growth of the aging population, together with improved stroke care, has resulted in an increase in stroke survivors and a rise in recurrent events. Axonal injury and white matter (WM) dysfunction are responsible for much of the disability observed after stroke. The mechanisms of WM injury are distinct compared to gray matter and change with age. Therefore, an ideal stroke therapeutic must restore neuronal and axonal function when applied before or after a stroke, and it must also protect across age groups. Casein kinase 2 (CK2), is expressed in the brain, including WM, and is regulated during the development and numerous disease conditions such as cancer and ischemia. CK2 activation in WM mediates ischemic injury by activating the Cdk5 and AKT/GSK3β signaling pathways. Consequently, CK2 inhibition using the small molecule inhibitor CX-4945 (Silmitasertib) correlates with preservation of oligodendrocytes, conservation of axon structure, and axonal mitochondria, leading to improved functional recovery. Remarkably, CK2 inhibition promotes WM function when applied after ischemic injury by specifically regulating the AKT/GSK3β pathways. The blockade of the active conformation of AKT confers post-ischemic protection to young and old WM by preserving mitochondria, implying AKT as a common therapeutic target across age groups. Using a NanoString nCounter miRNA expression profiling, comparative analyses of ischemic WM with or without CX-4945 treatment reveal that miRNAs are expressed at high levels in WM after ischemia, and CX-4945 differentially regulates some of these miRNAs. Therefore, we propose that miRNA regulation may be one of the protective actions of CX-4945 against WM ischemic injury. Silmitasertib is FDA approved and currently in use for cancer and Covid patients; therefore, it is plausible to repurpose CK2 inhibitors for stroke patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number908521
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Biosciences
StatePublished - Jul 13 2022


  • akt
  • CX-4945
  • ischemia
  • micro RNA
  • mitochondria
  • post-ischemic protection
  • silmitasertib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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