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1.  The Aurora Kinase in Trypanosoma brucei Plays Distinctive Roles in Metaphase-Anaphase Transition and Cytokinetic Initiation 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(9):e1000575.
Aurora B kinase is an essential regulator of chromosome segregation with the action well characterized in eukaryotes. It is also implicated in cytokinesis, but the detailed mechanism remains less clear, partly due to the difficulty in separating the latter from the former function in a growing cell. A chemical genetic approach with an inhibitor of the enzyme added to a synchronized cell population at different stages of the cell cycle would probably solve this problem. In the deeply branched parasitic protozoan Trypanosoma brucei, an Aurora B homolog, TbAUK1, was found to control both chromosome segregation and cytokinetic initiation by evidence from RNAi and dominant negative mutation. To clearly separate these two functions, VX-680, an inhibitor of TbAUK1, was added to a synchronized T. brucei procyclic cell population at different cell cycle stages. The unique trans-localization pattern of the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC), consisting of TbAUK1 and two novel proteins TbCPC1 and TbCPC2, was monitored during mitosis and cytokinesis by following the migration of the proteins tagged with enhanced yellow fluorescence protein in live cells with time-lapse video microscopy. Inhibition of TbAUK1 function in S-phase, prophase or metaphase invariably arrests the cells in the metaphase, suggesting an action of TbAUK1 in promoting metaphase-anaphase transition. TbAUK1 inhibition in anaphase does not affect mitotic exit, but prevents trans-localization of the CPC from the spindle midzone to the anterior tip of the new flagellum attachment zone for cytokinetic initiation. The CPC in the midzone is dispersed back to the two segregated nuclei, while cytokinesis is inhibited. In and beyond telophase, TbAUK1 inhibition has no effect on the progression of cytokinesis or the subsequent G1, S and G2 phases until a new metaphase is attained. There are thus two clearly distinct points of TbAUK1 action in T. brucei: the metaphase-anaphase transition and cytokinetic initiation. This is the first time to our knowledge that the dual functions of an Aurora B homolog is dissected and separated into two clearly distinct time frames in a cell cycle.
Author Summary
The chromosomal passenger complex (CPC) is essential for chromosome segregation and cytokinesis in eukaryotes, but the detailed mechanism of cytokinetic regulation remains less clear, partly due to the difficulty in separating the two functions in a growing cell. A chemical genetic approach by adding an inhibitor of the Aurora kinase in the CPC to a synchronized cell population at different cell cycle stages would probably solve this problem. The CPC in Trypanosoma brucei consists of an Aurora-like kinase (TbAUK1) and two novel proteins and bears little resemblance to the CPC in other eukaryotes. It moves from kinetochores to the spindle midzone during metaphase-anaphase transition, and then displays a unique trans-localization to the anterior end of the cell to initiate cytokinesis by moving from the anterior to the posterior end of the cell to separate it into two. To envision the role of TbAUK1 in driving this unusual process, we applied a chemical genetic approach and demonstrated that there are two distinct points of TbAUK1 action in T. brucei: the metaphase to anaphase transition and cytokinetic initiation. This is the first time to our knowledge that the dual functions of an Aurora B homolog is dissected and separated into two clearly distinct time frames in a cell cycle.
PMCID: PMC2734176  PMID: 19750216
2.  A Small C-Terminal Sequence of Aurora B Is Responsible for Localization and Function 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(1):292-305.
Aurora B, a protein kinase required in mitosis, localizes to inner centromeres at metaphase and the spindle midzone in anaphase and is required for proper chromosome segregation and cytokinesis. Aurora A, a paralogue of Aurora B, localizes instead to centrosomes and spindle microtubules. Except for distinct N termini, Aurora B and Aurora A have highly similar sequences. We have combined small interfering RNA (siRNA) ablation of Aurora B with overexpression of truncation mutants to investigate the role of Aurora B sequence in its function. Reintroduction of Aurora B during siRNA treatment restored its localization and function. This permitted a restoration of function test to determine the sequence requirements for Aurora B targeting and function. Using this rescue protocol, neither N-terminal truncation of Aurora B unique sequence nor substitution with Aurora A N-terminal sequence affected Aurora B localization or function. Truncation of unique Aurora B C-terminal sequence from terminal residue 344 to residue 333 was without effect, but truncation to 326 abolished localization and function. Deletion of residues 326-333 completely abolished localization and blocked cells at prometaphase, establishing this sequence as critical to Aurora B function. Our findings thus establish a small sequence as essential for the distinct localization and function of Aurora B.
PMCID: PMC539173  PMID: 15509656
3.  Mitotic Phosphorylation of Histone H3: Spatio-Temporal Regulation by Mammalian Aurora Kinases 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(3):874-885.
Phosphorylation at a highly conserved serine residue (Ser-10) in the histone H3 tail is considered to be a crucial event for the onset of mitosis. This modification appears early in the G2 phase within pericentromeric heterochromatin and spreads in an ordered fashion coincident with mitotic chromosome condensation. Mutation of Ser-10 is essential in Tetrahymena, since it results in abnormal chromosome segregation and extensive chromosome loss during mitosis and meiosis, establishing a strong link between signaling and chromosome dynamics. Although mitotic H3 phosphorylation has been long recognized, the transduction routes and the identity of the protein kinases involved have been elusive. Here we show that the expression of Aurora-A and Aurora-B, two kinases of the Aurora/AIK family, is tightly coordinated with H3 phosphorylation during the G2/M transition. During the G2 phase, the Aurora-A kinase is coexpressed while the Aurora-B kinase colocalizes with phosphorylated histone H3. At prophase and metaphase, Aurora-A is highly localized in the centrosomic region and in the spindle poles while Aurora-B is present in the centromeric region concurrent with H3 phosphorylation, to then translocate by cytokinesis to the midbody region. Both Aurora-A and Aurora-B proteins physically interact with the H3 tail and efficiently phosphorylate Ser10 both in vitro and in vivo, even if Aurora-A appears to be a better H3 kinase than Aurora-B. Since Aurora-A and Aurora-B are known to be overexpressed in a variety of human cancers, our findings provide an attractive link between cell transformation, chromatin modifications and a specific kinase system.
PMCID: PMC133550  PMID: 11784863
4.  Regulation of Aurora B Expression by the Bromodomain Protein Brd4▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(18):5094-5103.
The bromodomain protein Brd4 plays critical roles in cellular proliferation and cell cycle progression. In this study, we investigated the involvement of Brd4 in cell cycle regulation and observed aberrant chromosome segregation and failures in cytokinesis in cancer cells as well as in primary keratinocytes in which Brd4 has been knocked down by RNA interference. Suppression of Brd4 protein levels in proliferating cells decreased Aurora B protein and transcript levels and abolished its chromosomal distribution. In contrast, exogenous Brd4 expression stimulated Aurora B promoter reporter activity and upregulated endogenous Aurora B expression. Aurora B kinase is a chromosomal passenger protein that is essential for chromosome segregation and cytokinesis. Either overexpression of Aurora B or its inactivation can induce defects in centrosome function, spindle assembly, chromosome alignment, and cytokinesis in various cancer cells. The impaired regulation of Aurora B expression in human cells by Brd4 knockdown or overexpression coincided with mitotic catastrophe and multinucleation that are typically observed when Aurora B is inactivated or overexpressed. Overall, our data suggest that Brd4 is essential for the maintenance of the cell cycle progression mediated at least in part through the control of transcription of the Aurora B kinase cell cycle regulatory gene.
PMCID: PMC2738288  PMID: 19596781
5.  Urochordate Ascidians Possess a Single Isoform of Aurora Kinase That Localizes to the Midbody via TPX2 in Eggs and Cleavage Stage Embryos 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45431.
Aurora kinases are key proteins found throughout the eukaryotes that control mitotic progression. Vertebrate Aurora-A and B kinases are thought to have evolved from a single Aurora-kinase isoform closest to that found in present day urochordates. In urochordate ascidians Aurora binds both TPX2 (a vertebrate AURKA partner) and INCENP (a vertebrate AURKB partner) and localizes to centrosomes and spindle microtubules as well as chromosomes and midbody during both meiosis and mitosis. Ascidian Aurora also displays this localization pattern during mitosis in echinoderms, strengthening the idea that non-vertebrate deuterostomes such as the urochordates and echinoderms possess a single form of Aurora kinase that has properties of vertebrate Aurora-kinase A and B. In the ascidian, TPX2 localizes to the centrosome and the spindle poles also as in vertebrates. However, we were surprised to find that TPX2 also localized strongly to the midbody in ascidian eggs and embryos. We thus examined more closely Aurora localization to the midbody by creating two separate point mutations of ascidian Aurora predicted to perturb binding to TPX2. Both forms of mutated Aurora behaved as predicted: neither localized to spindle poles where TPX2 is enriched. Interestingly, neither form of mutated Aurora localized to the midbody where TPX2 is also enriched, suggesting that ascidian Aurora midbody localization required TPX2 binding in ascidians. Functional analysis revealed that inhibition of Aurora kinase with a pharmacological inhibitor or with a dominant negative kinase dead form of Aurora caused cytokinesis failure and perturbed midbody formation during polar body extrusion. Our data support the view that vertebrate Aurora-A and B kinases evolved from a single non-vertebrate deuterostome ancestor. Moreover, since TPX2 localizes to the midbody in ascidian eggs and cleavage stage embryos it may be worthwhile re-assessing whether Aurora A kinase or TPX2 localize to the midbody in eggs and cleavage stage embryos.
PMCID: PMC3447887  PMID: 23029005
6.  A Novel Mammalian, Mitotic Spindle–associated Kinase Is Related to Yeast and Fly Chromosome Segregation Regulators  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;138(3):643-656.
We describe a novel mammalian protein kinase related to two newly identified yeast and fly kinases—Ipl1 and aurora, respectively—mutations in which cause disruption of chromosome segregation. We have designated this kinase as Ipl1- and aurora-related kinase 1 (IAK1). IAK1 expression in mouse fibroblasts is tightly regulated temporally and spatially during the cell cycle. Transcripts first appear at G1/S boundary, are elevated at M-phase, and disappear rapidly after completion of mitosis. The protein levels and kinase activity of IAK1 are also cell cycle regulated with a peak at M-phase. IAK1 protein has a distinct subcellular and temporal pattern of localization. It is first identified on the centrosomes immediately after the duplicated centrosomes have separated. The protein remains on the centrosome and the centrosome-proximal part of the spindle throughout mitosis and is detected weakly on midbody microtubules at telophase and cytokinesis. In cells recovering from nocodazole treatment and in taxol-treated mitotic cells, IAK1 is associated with microtubule organizing centers. A wild-type and a mutant form of IAK1 cause mitotic spindle defects and lethality in ipl1 mutant yeast cells but not in wild-type cells, suggesting that IAK1 interferes with Ipl1p function in yeast. Taken together, these data strongly suggest that IAK1 may have an important role in centrosome and/ or spindle function during chromosome segregation in mammalian cells. We suggest that IAK1 is a new member of an emerging subfamily of the serine/threonine kinase superfamily. The members of this subfamily may be important regulators of chromosome segregation.
PMCID: PMC2141637  PMID: 9245792
7.  The cell cycle as a therapeutic target against Trypanosoma brucei: Hesperadin inhibits Aurora kinase-1 and blocks mitotic progression in bloodstream forms 
Molecular microbiology  2009;72(2):442-458.
Aurora kinase family members coordinate a range of events associated with mitosis and cytokinesis. Anti-cancer therapies are currently being developed against them. Here, we evaluate whether Aurora kinase-1 (TbAUK1) from pathogenic Trypanosoma brucei might be targeted in anti-parasitic therapies as well. Conditional knockdown of TbAUK1 within infected mice demonstrated its essential contribution to infection. An in vitro kinase assay was developed which used recombinant trypanosome histone H3 (rTbH3) as a substrate. Tandem MS identified a novel phosphorylation site in the carboxyl-tail of rTbH3. Hesperadin, an inhibitor of human Aurora B, prevented the phosphorylation of substrate with IC50 of 40 nM. Growth of cultured bloodstream forms (BF) was also sensitive to Hesperadin (IC50 of 50 nM). Hesperadin blocked nuclear division and cytokinesis, but not other aspects of the cell cycle. Consequently, growth arrested cells accumulated multiple kinetoplasts, flagella and nucleoli; similar to the effects of RNAi-dependent knockdown of TbAUK1 in cultured BF cells. Molecular models predicted high affinity binding of Hesperadin to both conserved and novel sites in TbAUK1. Collectively, these data demonstrate that cell cycle progression is essential for infections with T. brucei, and that parasite Aurora kinases can be targeted with small-molecule inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2697958  PMID: 19320832
Trypanosoma brucei; Aurora kinase; mitosis; histone H3; histone H2B; Hesperadin; therapy
8.  The small molecule Hesperadin reveals a role for Aurora B in correcting kinetochore–microtubule attachment and in maintaining the spindle assembly checkpoint 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;161(2):281-294.
The proper segregation of sister chromatids in mitosis depends on bipolar attachment of all chromosomes to the mitotic spindle. We have identified the small molecule Hesperadin as an inhibitor of chromosome alignment and segregation. Our data imply that Hesperadin causes this phenotype by inhibiting the function of the mitotic kinase Aurora B. Mammalian cells treated with Hesperadin enter anaphase in the presence of numerous monooriented chromosomes, many of which may have both sister kinetochores attached to one spindle pole (syntelic attachment). Hesperadin also causes cells arrested by taxol or monastrol to enter anaphase within <1 h, whereas cells in nocodazole stay arrested for 3–5 h. Together, our data suggest that Aurora B is required to generate unattached kinetochores on monooriented chromosomes, which in turn could promote bipolar attachment as well as maintain checkpoint signaling.
PMCID: PMC2172906  PMID: 12707311
mitosis; chromosome segregation; kinetochores; spindle assembly checkpoint; chemical biology
9.  Aurora kinase inhibitors: Potential molecular-targeted drugs for gynecologic malignant tumors 
Biomedical Reports  2013;1(3):335-340.
Chemotherapy and surgery are important treatment strategies for gynecologic malignant tumors such as ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancer. However, many anticancer drugs currently available are cytotoxic and cause strong adverse reactions in patients. Aurora kinases have attracted increasing attention in recent years as serine/threonine kinases with various roles in cell division, including chromosomal agglutination and segregation, functions of centromeres, centrosomal maturation, spindle formation and cytokinesis. Aurora kinases are overexpressed in a number of cancers and recent studies have shown that they are involved in onco genesis and cause an aberrant increase in centrosome number, emergence of polykaryocytes and failure of cancer inhibition mechanisms. Thus, drugs that inhibit Aurora kinases are likely to exert anticancer effects in various fields, including the gynecologic field. Aurora kinase inhibitors exert antitumor effects in monotherapy and synergistic effects in combination therapy with taxane-based anticancer agents for gynecologic tumors and are likely to increase the efficacy of existing anticancer drugs. Current Aurora kinase inhibitors include ZM447439, Hesperadin, VX-680/MK-0457, AT9283 and Barasertib, and clinical trials are ongoing to verify the effects of these inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3917679  PMID: 24648944
Aurora kinase A; Aurora kinase inhibitor; gynecologic cancer; hesperadin; VX-680; ZM447439
10.  The Chromosomal Passenger Complex Activates Polo Kinase at Centromeres 
PLoS Biology  2012;10(1):e1001250.
INCENP acts as a protein scaffold that integrates the functions of two crucial mitotic kinases, Aurora B and Polo, at centromeres of mitotic chromosomes.
The coordinated activities at centromeres of two key cell cycle kinases, Polo and Aurora B, are critical for ensuring that the two sister kinetochores of each chromosome are attached to microtubules from opposite spindle poles prior to chromosome segregation at anaphase. Initial attachments of chromosomes to the spindle involve random interactions between kinetochores and dynamic microtubules, and errors occur frequently during early stages of the process. The balance between microtubule binding and error correction (e.g., release of bound microtubules) requires the activities of Polo and Aurora B kinases, with Polo promoting stable attachments and Aurora B promoting detachment. Our study concerns the coordination of the activities of these two kinases in vivo. We show that INCENP, a key scaffolding subunit of the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC), which consists of Aurora B kinase, INCENP, Survivin, and Borealin/Dasra B, also interacts with Polo kinase in Drosophila cells. It was known that Aurora A/Bora activates Polo at centrosomes during late G2. However, the kinase that activates Polo on chromosomes for its critical functions at kinetochores was not known. We show here that Aurora B kinase phosphorylates Polo on its activation loop at the centromere in early mitosis. This phosphorylation requires both INCENP and Aurora B activity (but not Aurora A activity) and is critical for Polo function at kinetochores. Our results demonstrate clearly that Polo kinase is regulated differently at centrosomes and centromeres and suggest that INCENP acts as a platform for kinase crosstalk at the centromere. This crosstalk may enable Polo and Aurora B to achieve a balance wherein microtubule mis-attachments are corrected, but proper attachments are stabilized allowing proper chromosome segregation.
Author Summary
When cells divide, their chromosomes segregate to the two daughter cells on the mitotic spindle, a dynamic macromolecular scaffold composed of microtubules. Each chromosome consists of two sister chromatids. Microtubules attach to the chromatids at structures called kinetochores, which assemble at the surface of the constricted centromere region where the sister chromatids are most closely paired. To segregate correctly, sister kinetochores must attach to microtubules emanating from opposite spindle poles. Kinetochore attachment to microtubules occurs randomly and mistakes occur frequently. For example, both sister kinetochores may attach to one pole, or one kinetochore may attach to both poles simultaneously. Two protein kinases, Aurora B and Polo, have essential roles in regulating this process: Aurora B triggers the release of incorrect attachments and Polo strengthens the grip that correctly attached kinetochores have on microtubules. In this work, we have investigated the potential functional links between these two crucial enzymes at centromeres in cells of the fruitfly. We found that early in division, Aurora B and Polo both interact with a structural partner protein named INCENP at centromeres. This allows Aurora B to phosphorylate Polo, thereby activating it. We show that coordinating the activities of these two central mitotic kinases is crucial for successful cell division, and that this mechanism is conserved in human cells.
PMCID: PMC3265468  PMID: 22291575
11.  Aurora B couples chromosome alignment with anaphase by targeting BubR1, Mad2, and Cenp-E to kinetochores 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;161(2):267-280.
The Aurora/Ipl1 family of protein kinases plays multiple roles in mitosis and cytokinesis. Here, we describe ZM447439, a novel selective Aurora kinase inhibitor. Cells treated with ZM447439 progress through interphase, enter mitosis normally, and assemble bipolar spindles. However, chromosome alignment, segregation, and cytokinesis all fail. Despite the presence of maloriented chromosomes, ZM447439-treated cells exit mitosis with normal kinetics, indicating that the spindle checkpoint is compromised. Indeed, ZM447439 prevents mitotic arrest after exposure to paclitaxel. RNA interference experiments suggest that these phenotypes are due to inhibition of Aurora B, not Aurora A or some other kinase. In the absence of Aurora B function, kinetochore localization of the spindle checkpoint components BubR1, Mad2, and Cenp-E is diminished. Furthermore, inhibition of Aurora B kinase activity prevents the rebinding of BubR1 to metaphase kinetochores after a reduction in centromeric tension. Aurora B kinase activity is also required for phosphorylation of BubR1 on entry into mitosis. Finally, we show that BubR1 is not only required for spindle checkpoint function, but is also required for chromosome alignment. Together, these results suggest that by targeting checkpoint proteins to kinetochores, Aurora B couples chromosome alignment with anaphase onset.
PMCID: PMC2172902  PMID: 12719470
mitosis; spindle checkpoint; chemical biology; aneuploidy; ZM447439
12.  Making the Auroras glow: regulation of Aurora A and B kinase function by interacting proteins 
Current Opinion in Cell Biology  2009;21(6):796-805.
The conserved Aurora family of protein kinases have emerged as crucial regulators of mitosis and cytokinesis. Despite their high degree of homology, Aurora A and B have very distinctive localisations and functions: Aurora A associates with the spindle poles to regulate entry into mitosis, centrosome maturation and spindle assembly; Aurora B is a member of the Chromosomal Passenger Complex (CPC) that transfers from the inner centromere in early mitosis to the spindle midzone, equatorial cortex and midbody in late mitosis and cytokinesis. Aurora B functions include regulation of chromosome–microtubule interactions, cohesion, spindle stability and cytokinesis. This review will focus on how interacting proteins make this functional diversity possible by targeting the kinases to different subcellular locations and regulating their activity.
PMCID: PMC2806521  PMID: 19836940
13.  The Aurora kinase inhibitor CCT137690 downregulates MYCN and sensitizes MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma in vivo 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2011;10(11):2115-2123.
The Aurora kinases regulate key stages of mitosis including centrosome maturation, spindle assembly, chromosome segregation and cytokinesis. Aurora A and B overexpression has also been associated with various human cancers and as such, they have been extensively studied as novel anti-mitotic drug targets. Here we characterise the Aurora kinase inhibitor CCT137690, a highly selective, orally bioavailable imidazo[4,5-b]pyridine derivative that inhibits Aurora A and B kinases with low nanomolar IC50 values in both biochemical and cellular assays and exhibits anti-proliferative activity against a wide range of human solid tumour cell lines. CCT137690 efficiently inhibits histone H3 and TACC3 phosphorylation (Aurora B and Aurora A substrates, respectively) in HCT116 and HeLa cells. Continuous exposure of tumour cells to the inhibitor causes multipolar spindle formation, chromosome misalignment, polyploidy and apoptosis. This is accompanied by p53/p21/BAX induction, thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) downregulation and PARP cleavage. Furthermore, CCT137690 treatment of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines inhibits cell proliferation and decreases MYCN protein expression. Importantly, in a transgenic mouse model of neuroblastoma (TH-MYCN) that overexpresses MYCN protein and is predisposed to spontaneous neuroblastoma formation, this compound significantly inhibits tumour growth. The potent preclinical activity of CCT137690 suggests that this inhibitor may benefit patients with MYCN amplified neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC4298164  PMID: 21885865
Aurora; Neuroblastoma; Inhibitor; MYCN
14.  The Chromosomal Passenger Complex and a Mitotic Kinesin Interact with the Tousled-Like Kinase in Trypanosomes to Regulate Mitosis and Cytokinesis 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(11):e3814.
Aurora B kinase plays essential roles in mitosis and cytokinesis in eukaryotes. In the procyclic form of Trypanosoma brucei, the Aurora B homolog TbAUK1 regulates mitosis and cytokinesis, phosphorylates the Tousled-like kinase TbTLK1, interacts with two mitotic kinesins TbKIN-A and TbKIN-B and forms a novel chromosomal passenger complex (CPC) with two novel proteins TbCPC1 and TbCPC2. Here we show with time-lapse video microscopy the time course of CPC trans-localization from the spindle midzone in late anaphase to the dorsal side of the cell where the anterior end of daughter cell is tethered, and followed by a glide toward the posterior end to divide the cell, representing a novel mode of cytokinesis in eukaryotes. The three subunits of CPC, TbKIN-B and TbTLK1 interact with one another suggesting a close association among the five proteins. An ablation of TbTLK1 inhibited the subsequent trans-localization of CPC and TbKIN-B, whereas a knockdown of CPC or TbKIN-B disrupted the spindle pole localization of TbTLK1 during mitosis. In the bloodstream form of T. brucei, the five proteins also play essential roles in chromosome segregation and cytokinesis and display subcellular localization patterns similar to that in the procyclic form. The CPC in bloodstream form also undergoes a trans-localization during cytokinesis similar to that in the procyclic form. All together, our results indicate that the five-protein complex CPC-TbTLK1-TbKIN-B plays key roles in regulating chromosome segregation in the early phase of mitosis and that the highly unusual mode of cytokinesis mediated by CPC occurs in both forms of trypanosomes.
PMCID: PMC2583928  PMID: 19043568
15.  Analysis of mitotic phosphorylation of Borealin 
BMC Cell Biology  2007;8:5.
The main role of the chromosomal passenger complex is to ensure that Aurora B kinase is properly localized and activated before and during mitosis. Borealin, a member of the chromosomal passenger complex, shows increased expression during G2/M phases and is involved in targeting the complex to the centromere and the spindle midzone, where it ensures proper chromosome segregation and cytokinesis. Borealin has a consensus CDK1 phosphorylation site, threonine 106 and can be phosphorylated by Aurora B Kinase at serine 165 in vitro.
Here, we show that Borealin is phosphorylated during mitosis in human cells. Dephosphorylation of Borealin occurs as cells exit mitosis. The phosphorylated form of Borealin is found in an INCENP-containing complex in mitosis. INCENP-containing complexes from cells in S phase are enriched in the phosphorylated form suggesting that phosphorylation may encourage entry of Borealin into the chromosomal passenger complex. Although Aurora B Kinase is found in complexes that contain Borealin, it is not required for the mitotic phosphorylation of Borealin. Mutation of T106 or S165 of Borealin to alanine does not alter the electrophoretic mobility shift of Borealin. Experiments with cyclohexamide and the phosphatase inhibitor sodium fluoride suggest that Borealin is phosphorylated by a protein kinase that can be active in interphase and mitosis and that the phosphorylation may be regulated by a short-lived phosphatase that is active in interphase but not mitosis.
Borealin is phosphorylated during mitosis. Neither residue S165, T106 nor phosphorylation of Borealin by Aurora B Kinase is required to generate the mitotic, shifted form of Borealin. Suppression of phosphorylation during interphase is ensured by a labile protein, possibly a cell cycle regulated phosphatase.
PMCID: PMC1794407  PMID: 17241471
16.  Calmodulin protects Aurora B on the midbody to regulate the fidelity of cytokinesis 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(4):663-673.
Aurora B kinase is an integral regulator of cytokinesis as it stabilizes the intercellular canal within the midbody to ensure proper chromosomal segregation during cell division. Here we identified an E3 ligase subunit, F box protein FBXL2, that by recognizing a calmodulin binding signature within Aurora B, ubiquitinates and removes the kinase from the midbody. Calmodulin, by competing with the F box protein for access to the calmodulin binding signature, protected Aurora B from FBXL2. Calmodulin co-localized with Aurora B on the midbody, preserved Aurora B levels in cells, and stabilized intercellular canals during delayed abscission. Genetic or pharmaceutical depletion of endogenous calmodulin significantly reduced Aurora B protein levels at the midbody resulting in tetraploidy and multi-spindle formation. The calmodulin inhibitor, calmidazolium, reduced Aurora B protein levels resulting in tetraploidy, mitotic arrest, and apoptosis of tumorigenic cells and profoundly inhibiting tumor formation in athymic nude mice. These observations indicate molecular interplay between Aurora B and calmodulin in telophase and suggest that calmodulin acts as a checkpoint sensor for chromosomal segregation errors during mitosis.
PMCID: PMC3594267  PMID: 23370391
Aurora B; FBXL2; calmodulin; mitosis; midbody
17.  Aurora B Kinase Exists in a Complex with Survivin and INCENP and Its Kinase Activity Is Stimulated by Survivin Binding and Phosphorylation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2002;13(9):3064-3077.
Aurora B regulates chromosome segregation and cytokinesis and is the first protein to be implicated as a regulator of bipolar attachment of spindle microtubules to kinetochores. Evidence from several systems suggests that Aurora B is physically associated with inner centromere protein (INCENP) in mitosis and has genetic interactions with Survivin. It is unclear whether the Aurora B and INCENP interaction is cell cycle regulated and if Survivin physically interacts in this complex. In this study, we cloned the Xenopus Survivin gene, examined its association with Aurora B and INCENP, and determined the effect of its binding on Aurora B kinase activity. We demonstrate that in the Xenopus early embryo, all of the detectable Survivin is in a complex with both Aurora B and INCENP throughout the cell cycle. Survivin and Aurora B bind different domains on INCENP. Aurora B activity is stimulated >10-fold in mitotic extracts; this activation is phosphatase sensitive, and the binding of Survivin is required for full Aurora B activity. We also find the hydrodynamic properties of the Aurora B/Survivin/INCENP complex are cell cycle regulated. Our data indicate that Aurora B kinase activity is regulated by both Survivin binding and cell cycle-dependent phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC124143  PMID: 12221116
18.  Drosophila Aurora B Kinase Is Required for Histone H3 Phosphorylation and Condensin Recruitment during Chromosome Condensation and to Organize the Central Spindle during Cytokinesis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;152(4):669-682.
Aurora/Ipl1-related kinases are a conserved family of enzymes that have multiple functions during mitotic progression. Although it has been possible to use conventional genetic analysis to dissect the function of aurora, the founding family member in Drosophila (Glover, D.M., M.H. Leibowitz, D.A. McLean, and H. Parry. 1995. Cell. 81:95–105), the lack of mutations in a second aurora-like kinase gene, aurora B, precluded this approach. We now show that depleting Aurora B kinase using double-stranded RNA interference in cultured Drosophila cells results in polyploidy. aurora B encodes a passenger protein that associates first with condensing chromatin, concentrates at centromeres, and then relocates onto the central spindle at anaphase. Cells depleted of the Aurora B kinase show only partial chromosome condensation at mitosis. This is associated with a reduction in levels of the serine 10 phosphorylated form of histone H3 and a failure to recruit the Barren condensin protein onto chromosomes. These defects are associated with abnormal segregation resulting from lagging chromatids and extensive chromatin bridging at anaphase, similar to the phenotype of barren mutants (Bhat, M.A., A.V. Philp, D.M. Glover, and H.J. Bellen. 1996. Cell. 87:1103–1114.). The majority of treated cells also fail to undertake cytokinesis and show a reduced density of microtubules in the central region of the spindle. This is accompanied by a failure to correctly localize the Pavarotti kinesin-like protein, essential for this process. We discuss these conserved functions of Aurora B kinase in chromosome transmission and cytokinesis.
PMCID: PMC2195771  PMID: 11266459
Aurora B kinase; chromosome condensation; phospho-histone H3; barren; cytokinesis
19.  Novel E3 ligase component FBXL7 ubiquitinates and degrades Aurora A, causing mitotic arrest 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(4):721-729.
Aurora family kinases play pivotal roles in several steps during mitosis. Specifically, Aurora A kinase is an important regulator of bipolar mitotic spindle formation and chromosome segregation. Like other members of the Aurora family, Aurora A kinase is also regulated by post-translational modifications. Here, we show that a previously undescribed E3 ligase component belonging to the SCF (Skp-Cullin1-F-box protein) E3 ligase family, SCFFBXL7, impairs cell proliferation by mediating Aurora A polyubiquitination and degradation. Both Aurora A and FBXL7 co-localize within the centrosome during spindle formation. FBXL7 ectopic expression led to G2/M phase arrest in transformed epithelia, resulting in the appearance of tetraploidy and mitotic arrest with circular monopolar spindles and multipolar spindle formation. Interestingly, FBXL7 specifically interacts with Aurora A during mitosis but not in interphase, suggesting a regulatory role for FBXL7 in controlling Aurora A abundance during mitosis.
PMCID: PMC3318106  PMID: 22306998
F-box protein; centrosome; mitosis; Aurora A
20.  Aurora-C Kinase Deficiency Causes Cytokinesis Failure in Meiosis I and Production of Large Polyploid Oocytes in Mice 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(14):2371-2383.
We report for the first time the subcellular localization of endogenous Aurora-C and examine its roles during female mouse meiosis. The most dramatic effect observed in the oocyte injected with kinase-deficient Aurora-C mRNA is cytokinesis failure in meiosis I, resulting in production of large polyploid oocytes.
We previously isolated Aurora-C/Aie1 in a screen for kinases expressed in mouse sperm and eggs. Here, we show the localization of endogenous Aurora-C and examine its roles during female mouse meiosis. Aurora-C was detected at the centromeres and along the chromosome arms in prometaphase I–metaphase I and was concentrated at centromeres at metaphase II, in which Aurora-C also was phosphorylated at Thr171. During the anaphase I–telophase I transition, Aurora-C was dephosphorylated and relocalized to the midzone and midbody. Microinjection of the kinase-deficient Aurora-C (AurC-KD) mRNA into mouse oocytes significantly inhibited Aurora-C activity and caused multiple defects, including chromosome misalignment, abnormal kinetochore–microtubule attachment, premature chromosome segregation, and cytokinesis failure in meiosis I. Furthermore, AurC-KD reduced Aurora-C and histone H3 phosphorylation and inhibited kinetochore localization of Bub1 and BubR1. Similar effects also were observed in the oocytes injected with INCNEP-delIN mRNAs, in which the Aurora-C binding motif was removed. The most dramatic effect observed in AurC-KD–injected oocytes is cytokinesis failure in meiosis I, resulting in producing large polyploid oocytes, a pattern similar to Aurora-C deficiency human spermatozoa. Surprisingly, we detected no Aurora-B protein in mouse oocytes. We propose that Aurora-C, but not Aurora-B, plays essential roles in female mouse meiosis.
PMCID: PMC2903667  PMID: 20484572
21.  The C. elegans Tousled-like Kinase Contributes to Chromosome Segregation as a Substrate and Regulator of the Aurora B Kinase 
Current biology : CB  2005;15(10):894-904.
The Aurora kinases control multiple aspects of mitosis, among them centrosome maturation, spindle assembly, chromosome segregation, and cytokinesis. Aurora activity is regulated in part by a subset of Aurora substrates that, once phosphorylated, can enhance Aurora kinase activity. Aurora A substrate activators include TPX2 and Ajuba, whereas the only known Aurora B substrate activator is the chromosomal passenger INCENP.
We report that the C. elegans Tousled kinase TLK-1 is a second substrate activator of the Aurora B kinase AIR-2. Tousled kinase (Tlk) expression and activity have been linked to ongoing DNA replication, and Tlk can phosphorylate the chromatin assembly factor Asf. Here, we show that TLK-1 is phosphorylated by AIR-2 during prophase/prometaphase and that phosphorylation increases TLK-1 kinase activity in vitro. Phosphorylated TLK-1 increases AIR-2 kinase activity in a manner that is independent of TLK-1 kinase activity but depends on the presence of ICP-1/INCENP. In vivo, TLK-1 and AIR-2 cooperate to ensure proper mitotic chromosome segregation.
The C. elegans Tousled kinase TLK-1 is a substrate and activator of the Aurora B kinase AIR-2. These results suggest that Tousled kinases have a previously unrecognized role in mitosis and that Aurora B associates with discrete regulatory complexes that may impart distinct substrate specificities and functions to the Aurora B kinase.
PMCID: PMC2653428  PMID: 15916946
22.  Specific distribution of overexpressed aurora B kinase in interphase normal epithelial cells 
It is known that aurora B, a chromosomal passenger protein responsible for the proper progression of mitosis and cytokinesis, is overexpressed throughout the cell cycle in cancer cells. Overexpression of aurora B produced multinuclearity and induced aggressive metastasis, suggesting that overexpressed aurora B has multiple functions in cancer development. However, the detailed dynamics and functions of overexpressed aurora B are poorly understood.
We overexpressed GFP fused aurora B kinase in normal rat kidney epithelial cells. Using spinning disk confocal microscopy, we found that overexpressed aurora B-GFP was predominantly localized in the nucleus and along the cortex as a dot-like or short filamentous structure during interphase. Time-lapse imaging revealed that a cytoplasmic fraction of overexpressed aurora B-GFP was incorporated into the nucleus after cell division. Immunofluorescence studies showed that the nuclear fraction of overexpressed aurora B did not induce ectopic phosphorylation of histone H3 after cell division. The cytoplasmic fraction of overexpressed aurora B-GFP was mainly associated with cortical actin filaments but not stress fibers. Myosin II regulatory light chain, one of the possible targets for aurora B, did not colocalize with cortical aurora B-GFP, suggesting that overexpressed aurora B did not promote phosphorylation of myosin II regulatory light chain in interphase cells.
We conclude that overexpressed aurora B has a specific localization pattern in interphase cells. Based on our findings, we propose that overexpressed aurora B targets the nuclear and cortical proteins during interphase, which may contribute to cancer development and tumor metastasis.
PMCID: PMC1298314  PMID: 16281968
23.  Tousled-mediated Activation of Aurora B Kinase Does Not Require Tousled Kinase Activity in Vivo*s 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2008;283(19):12763-12768.
The Aurora kinases comprise an evolutionarily conserved protein family that is required for a variety of cell division events, including spindle assembly, chromosome segregation, and cytokinesis. Emerging evidence suggests that once phosphorylated, a subset of Aurora substrates can enhance Aurora kinase activity. Our previous work revealed that the Caenorhabditis elegans Tousled-like kinase TLK-1 is a substrate and activator of the AIR-2 Aurora B kinase in vitro and that partial loss of TLK-1 enhances the mitotic defects of an air-2 mutant. However, given that these experiments were performed in vitro and with partial loss of function alleles in vivo, a necessary step forward in our understanding of the relationship between the Aurora B and Tousled kinases is to prove that TLK-1 expression is sufficient for Aurora B activation in vivo. Here, we report that heterologous expression of wild-type and kinase-inactive forms of TLK-1 suppresses the lethality of temperature-sensitive mutants of the yeast Aurora B kinase Ipl1. Moreover, kinase-dead TLK-1 associates with and augments the activity of Ipl1 in vivo. Together, these results provide critical and compelling evidence that Tousled has a bona fide kinase-independent role in the activation of Aurora B kinases in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2442327  PMID: 18334486
24.  Deficiency in Myosin Light Chain Phosphorylation Causes Cytokinesis Failure and Multipolarity in Cancer Cells 
Oncogene  2010;29(29):4183-4193.
Cancer cells often have unstable genomes and increased centrosome and chromosome numbers, which play an important part of malignant transformation in the most recent models tumorigenesis. However, very little is known about divisional failures in cancer cells that may lead to chromosomal and centrosomal amplifications. We show here that cancer cells often failed at cytokinesis due to decreased phosphorylation of the myosin regulatory light chain (MLC), a key regulatory component of cortical contraction during division. Reduced MLC phosphorylation was associated with high expression of myosin phosphatase and/or reduced myosin light chain kinase levels. Furthermore, expression of phosphomimetic MLC largely prevented cytokinesis failure in the tested cancer cells. When myosin light chain phosphorylation was restored to normal levels by phosphatase knockdown multinucleation, and multipolar mitosis were both markedly reduced, resulting in enhanced genome stabilization. Furthermore, both overexpression of myosin phosphatase or inhibition of the myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) in nonmalignant cells can recapitulate some of the mitotic defects of cancer cells, including multinucleation and multipolar spindles, indicating these changes are sufficient to reproduce the cytokinesis failures we see in cancer cells. These results for the first time define the molecular defects leading to divisional failure in cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC2911497  PMID: 20498637
cytokinesis; myosin light chain kinase; multinucleation; multipolar spindles; myosin phosphatase; myosin regulatory light chain
25.  Simultaneous Aurora-A/STK15 overexpression and centrosome amplification induce chromosomal instability in tumour cells with a MIN phenotype 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:212.
Genetic instability is a hallmark of tumours and preneoplastic lesions. The predominant form of genome instability in human cancer is chromosome instability (CIN). CIN is characterized by chromosomal aberrations, gains or losses of whole chromosomes (aneuploidy), and it is often associated with centrosome amplification. Centrosomes control cell division by forming a bipolar mitotic spindle and play an essential role in the maintenance of chromosomal stability.
However, whether centrosome amplification could directly cause aneuploidy is not fully established. Also, alterations in genes required for mitotic progression could be involved in CIN.
A major candidate is represented by Aurora-A/STK15 that associates with centrosomes and is overexpressed in several types of human tumour.
Centrosome amplification were induced by hydroxyurea treatment and visualized by immunofluorescence microscopy. Aurora-A/STK15 ectopic expression was achieved by retroviral infection and puromycin selection in HCT116 tumour cells. Effects of Aurora-A/STK15 depletion on centrosome status and ploidy were determined by Aurora-A/STK15 transcriptional silencing by RNA interference. Changes in the expression levels of some mitotic genes were determined by Real time RT-PCR.
We investigated whether amplification of centrosomes and overexpression of Aurora-A/STK15 induce CIN using as a model system a colon carcinoma cell line (HCT116). We found that in HCT116 cells, chromosomally stable and near diploid cells harbouring a MIN phenotype, centrosome amplification induced by hydroxyurea treatment is neither maintained nor induces aneuploidy. On the contrary, ectopic overexpression of Aurora-A/STK15 induced supernumerary centrosomes and aneuploidy. Aurora-A/STK15 transcriptional silencing by RNA interference in cells ectopically overexpressing this kinase promptly decreased cell numbers with supernumerary centrosomes and aneuploidy.
Our results show that centrosome amplification alone is not sufficient to induce chromosomal instability in colon cancer cells with a MIN phenotype. Alternatively, centrosome amplification has to be associated with alterations in genes regulating mitosis progression such as Aurora-A/STK15 to trigger CIN.
PMCID: PMC2206046  PMID: 17999753

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