The role of polo-like kinase 1 in carcinogenesis: Cause or consequence?

Brian D. Cholewa, Xiaoqi Liu, Nihal Ahmad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) is a well-established mitotic regulator with a diverse range of biologic functions continually being identified throughout the cell cycle. Preclinical evidence suggests that the molecular targeting of Plk1 could be an effective therapeutic strategy in a wide range of cancers; however, that success has yet to be translated to the clinical level. The lack of clinical success has raised the question of whether there is a true oncogenic addiction to Plk1 or if its overexpression in tumors is solely an artifact of increased cellular proliferation. In this review, we address the role of Plk1 in carcinogenesis by discussing the cell cycle and DNA damage response with respect to their associations with classic oncogenic and tumor suppressor pathways that contribute to the transcriptional regulation of Plk1. A thorough examination of the available literature suggests that Plk1 activity can be dysregulated through key transformative pathways, including both p53 and pRb. On the basis of the available literature, it may be somewhat premature to draw a definitive conclusion on the role of Plk1 in carcinogenesis. However, evidence supports the notion that oncogene dependence on Plk1 is not a late occurrence in carcinogenesis and it is likely that Plk1 plays an active role in carcinogenic transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6848-6855
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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