Aurora kinases comprise a family of highly conserved serine-threonine protein kinases that play a pivotal role in the regulation of cell cycle. Aurora kinases are not only involved in the control of multiple processes during cell division but also coordinate chromosomal and cytoskeletal events, contributing to the regulation of checkpoints and ensuring the smooth progression of the cell cycle. Because of their fundamental contribution to cell cycle regulation, Aurora kinases were originally identified in independent genetic screens designed to find genes involved in the regulation of cell division. The first aurora mutant was part of a collection of mutants isolated in C. Nusslein-Volhard's laboratory. This collection was screened in D. M. Glover's laboratory in search for mutations disrupting the centrosome cycle in embryos derived from homozygous mutant mothers. The mutants identified were given names related to the “polar regions,” and included not only aurora but also the equally famous polo. Ipl1, the only Aurora in yeast, was identified in a genetic screen looking for mutations that caused chromosome segregation defects. The discovery of a second Aurora-like kinase in mammals opened a new chapter in the research of Aurora kinases. The rat kinase AIM was found to be highly homologous to the fly and yeast proteins, but localized at the midzone and midbody and was proposed to have a role in cytokinesis. Homologs of the equatorial Aurora (Aurora B) were identified in metazoans ranging from flies to humans. Xenopus Aurora B was found to be in a complex with the chromosomal passenger INCENP, and both proteins were shown to be essential in flies for chromosome structure, segregation, central spindle formation and cytokinesis. Fifteen years on, Aurora kinase research is an active field of research. After the successful introduction of the first anti-mitotic agents in cancer therapy, both Auroras have become the focus of attention as targets for the development of new anti-cancer drugs. In this review we will aim to give a historical overview of the research on Aurora kinases, highlighting the most relevant milestones in the advance of the field.
Aurora kinase; mitosis; chromosomal passenger complex; anticancer drugs; cytokinesis; centrosome
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trypanosoma brucei; Aurora kinase; mitosis; histone H3; histone H2B; Hesperadin; therapy
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.
mitosis; chromosome segregation; kinetochores; spindle assembly checkpoint; chemical biology
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.
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.
Aurora kinase A; Aurora kinase inhibitor; gynecologic cancer; hesperadin; VX-680; ZM447439
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.
Spindle poles are defined by centrosomes; therefore, an abnormal number or defective structural organization of centrosomes can lead to loss of spindle bipolarity and genetic integrity. Previously, we showed that Tpr (translocated promoter region), a component of the nuclear pore complex (NPC), interacts with Mad1 and dynein to promote proper chromosome segregation during mitosis. Tpr also associates with p53 to induce autophagy. Here, we report that Tpr depletion induces mitotic catastrophe and enhances the rate of tetraploidy and polyploidy. Mechanistically, Tpr interacts, via its central domain, with Aurora A but not Aurora B kinase. In Tpr-depleted cells, the expression levels, centrosomal localization and phosphorylation of Aurora A were all reduced. Surprisingly, an Aurora A inhibitor, Alisertib (MLN8237), also disrupted centrosomal localization of Tpr and induced mitotic catastrophe and cell death in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Strikingly, over-expression of Aurora A disrupted Tpr centrosomal localization only in cells with supernumerary centrosomes but not in bipolar cells. Our results highlight the mutual regulation between Tpr and Aurora A and further confirm the importance of nucleoporin function in spindle pole organization, bipolar spindle assembly, and mitosis; functions that are beyond the conventional nucleocytoplasmic transport and NPC structural roles of nucleoporins. Furthermore, the central coiled-coil domain of Tpr binds to and sequesters extra Aurora A to safeguard bipolarity. This Tpr domain merits further investigation for its ability to inhibit Aurora kinase and as a potential therapeutic agent in cancer treatment.
alisertib; AURKA; centrosome; centriole; tpr
The Aurora kinases are essential regulators of mitosis in eukaryotes. In somatic cell divisions of higher eukaryotes, the paralogs Aurora kinase A (AurA) and Aurora kinase B (AurB) play non-overlapping roles that depend on their distinct spatiotemporal activities. These mitotic roles of Aurora kinases depend on their interactions with different partners that direct them to different mitotic destinations and different substrates: AurB is a component of the chromosome passenger complex that orchestrates the tasks of chromosome segregation and cytokinesis, while AurA has many known binding partners and mitotic roles, including a well-characterized interaction with TPX2 that mediates its role in mitotic spindle assembly. Beyond the spatial control conferred by different binding partners, Aurora kinases are subject to temporal control of their activation and inactivation. Ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis is a critical route to irreversible inactivation of these kinases, which must occur for ordered transition from mitosis back to interphase. Both AurA and AurB undergo targeted proteolysis after anaphase onset as substrates of the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) ubiquitin ligase, even while they continue to regulate steps during mitotic exit. Temporal control of Aurora kinase destruction ensures that AurB remains active at the midbody during cytokinesis long after AurA activity has been largely eliminated from the cell. Differential destruction of Aurora kinases is achieved despite the fact that they are targeted at the same time and by the same ubiquitin ligase, making these substrates an interesting case study for investigating molecular determinants of ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis in higher eukaryotes. The prevalence of Aurora overexpression in cancers and their potential as therapeutic targets add importance to the task of understanding the molecular determinants of Aurora kinase stability. Here, we review what is known about ubiquitin-mediated targeting of these critical mitotic regulators and discuss the different factors that contribute to proteolytic control of Aurora kinase activity in the cell.
Aurora kinase; AURKA; AURKB; ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis; mitosis; APC/C
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.
mitosis; spindle checkpoint; chemical biology; aneuploidy; ZM447439
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.
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.
The meiotic generation of haploid gametes with equal contents of genetic material is important for sexual reproduction in mammals. Errors in the transmission of chromosomes during meiosis may lead to aneuploidy, which is the leading cause of miscarriage and congenital birth defects in humans. The Aurora kinases, which include Aurora-A, Aurora-B, and Aurora-C, are highly conserved serine–threonine kinases that play essential roles in centrosome function, chromosome segregation, and cytokinesis during mitosis and meiosis. While Aurora-A and Aurora-B have been extensively studied in mitosis, the role of Aurora-C in meiosis is only now starting to be revealed. For example, the perturbation of Aurora-C kinase activity by microinjection of Aurora-C-kinase-dead mutant mRNAs into mouse oocytes induced multiple defects, including chromosome misalignment, abnormal kinetochore–microtubule attachment, premature chromosome segregation, and failure of cytokinesis during meiotic division. However, the analysis of such defects is complicated by the possibility that Aurora-B may be present in mammalian germ cells. Interestingly, a homozygous mutation of Aurora-C in humans leads to the production of large-headed polyploid spermatozoa and causes male infertility, but homozygous females are fertile. Mouse studies regarding the roles of Aurora-B and Aurora-C in female meiotic divisions have yielded inconsistent results, and it has proven difficult to explain why homozygous human females have no significant clinical phenotype. In this review, we will discuss the controversial status of Aurora-B in oocytes and the possible role of Aurora-C during meiotic division.
meiosis; oocyte; spermatocyte; aurora kinase; mitosis; polyploidy; male infertility; aneuploidy
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.
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.
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.
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.
Aurora; Neuroblastoma; Inhibitor; MYCN
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.
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.
cytokinesis; myosin light chain kinase; multinucleation; multipolar spindles; myosin phosphatase; myosin regulatory light chain
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.
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.
Aurora B; FBXL2; calmodulin; mitosis; midbody
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.
Aurora B kinase; chromosome condensation; phospho-histone H3; barren; cytokinesis
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.