Coming of Age: Targeting Cyclin K in Cancers

Yi Xiao, Jixin Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) play versatile roles in promoting the hallmarks of cancer. Therefore, cyclins and CDKs have been widely studied and targeted in cancer treatment, with four CDK4/6 inhibitors being approved by the FDA and many other inhibitors being examined in clinical trials. The specific purpose of this review is to delineate the role and therapeutic potential of Cyclin K in cancers. Studies have shown that Cyclin K regulates many essential biological processes, including the DNA damage response, mitosis, and pre-replicative complex assembly, and is critical in both cancer cell growth and therapeutic resistance. Importantly, the druggability of Cyclin K has been demonstrated in an increasing number of studies that identify novel opportunities for its use in cancer treatment. This review first introduces the basic features and translational value of human cyclins and CDKs. Next, the discovery, phosphorylation targets, and related functional significance of Cyclin K-CDK12/13 complexes in cancer are detailed. This review then provides a summary of current Cyclin K-associated cancer studies, with an emphasis on the available Cyclin K-targeting drugs. Finally, the current knowledge gaps regarding the potential of Cyclin K in cancers are discussed, along with interesting directions for future investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2044
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • cancer
  • CDK
  • cyclin
  • Cyclin K
  • degrader
  • inhibitor
  • phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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