Protein kinase CK2 (casein kinase 2) is a eukaryotic serine/threonine protein kinase with multiple substrates and roles in diverse cellular processes, including differentiation, proliferation, and translation. The mammalian holoenzyme consists of two catalytic alpha or alpha′ subunits and two regulatory beta subunits. We report the identification and characterization of a Plasmodium falciparum CK2α orthologue, PfCK2α, and two PfCK2β orthologues, PfCK2β1 and PfCK2β2. Recombinant PfCK2α possesses protein kinase activity, exhibits similar substrate and cosubstrate preferences to those of CK2α subunits from other organisms, and interacts with both of the PfCK2β subunits in vitro. Gene disruption experiments show that the presence of PfCK2α is crucial to asexual blood stage parasites and thereby validate the enzyme as a possible drug target. PfCK2α is amenable to inhibitor screening, and we report differential susceptibility between the human and P. falciparum CK2α enzymes to a small molecule inhibitor. Taken together, our data identify PfCK2α as a potential target for antimalarial chemotherapeutic intervention
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