Nek2 Kinase Signaling in Malaria, Bone, Immune and Kidney Disorders to Metastatic Cancers and Drug Resistance: Progress on Nek2 Inhibitor Development

Dibyendu Dana, Tuhin Das, Athena Choi, Ashif I. Bhuiyan, Tirtha K. Das, Tanaji T. Talele, Sanjai K. Pathak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Cell cycle kinases represent an important component of the cell machinery that controls signal transduction involved in cell proliferation, growth, and differentiation. Nek2 is a mitotic Ser/Thr kinase that localizes predominantly to centrosomes and kinetochores and orchestrates centrosome disjunction and faithful chromosomal segregation. Its activity is tightly regulated during the cell cycle with the help of other kinases and phosphatases and via proteasomal degradation. Increased levels of Nek2 kinase can promote centrosome amplification (CA), mitotic defects, chromosome instability (CIN), tumor growth, and cancer metastasis. While it remains a highly attractive target for the development of anti-cancer therapeutics, several new roles of the Nek2 enzyme have recently emerged: these include drug resistance, bone, ciliopathies, immune and kidney diseases, and parasitic diseases such as malaria. Therefore, Nek2 is at the interface of multiple cellular processes and can influence numerous cellular signaling networks. Herein, we provide a critical overview of Nek2 kinase biology and discuss the signaling roles it plays in both normal and diseased human physiology. While the majority of research efforts over the last two decades have focused on the roles of Nek2 kinase in tumor development and cancer metastasis, the signaling mechanisms involving the key players associated with several other notable human diseases are highlighted here. We summarize the efforts made so far to develop Nek2 inhibitory small molecules, illustrate their action modalities, and provide our opinion on the future of Nek2-targeted therapeutics. It is anticipated that the functional inhibition of Nek2 kinase will be a key strategy going forward in drug development, with applications across multiple human diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number347
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Centrosomal kinase
  • Mitotic kinase
  • Nek2 PROTACS
  • Nek2 in cancer metastasis
  • Nek2 inhibitors
  • Nek2 kinase review
  • Nek2 kinase signaling
  • Small molecule inhibitors of Nek2 kinase


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