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1.  Rapid calcium-dependent activation of Aurora-A kinase  
Nature Communications  2010;1(6):1-8.
Oncogenic hyperactivation of the mitotic kinase Aurora-A (AurA) in cancer is associated with genomic instability. Increasing evidence indicates that AurA also regulates critical processes in normal interphase cells, but the source of such activity has been obscure. We report here that multiple stimuli causing release of Ca2+ from intracellular endoplasmic reticulum stores rapidly and transiently activate AurA, without requirement for second messengers. This activation is mediated by direct Ca2+-dependent calmodulin (CaM) binding to multiple motifs on AurA. On the basis of structure–function analysis and molecular modelling, we map two primary regions of CaM-AurA interaction to unfolded sequences in the AurA N- and C-termini. This unexpected mechanism for AurA activation provides a new context for evaluating the function of AurA and its inhibitors in normal and cancerous cells.
Aurora-A kinase localizes to centrosomes, is involved in the progression through mitosis and is overexpressed in certain cancers. Here, calcium is shown to induce Aurora-A auto-phosphorylation in a calmodulin-dependent manner, suggesting a novel role for Aurora-A in non-mitotic cells.
PMCID: PMC2963827  PMID: 20842194
2.  Localization of aurora A and aurora B kinases during interphase: role of the N-terminal domain 
Cell Cycle  2008;7(19):3012-3020.
Aurora kinases possess a conserved catalytic domain (CD) and a N-terminal domain (ND) that varies in size and sequence. We have previously reported that the N-terminal domain of AuroraA (AurA) participates in the localization of the kinase to the centrosome in interphase. AuroraB (AurB) is a chromosome passenger protein and its N-terminal domain is not necessary for its localization or function during mitosis. Using various combinations of GFP-AurA and AurB protein domains we show that in interphase, AurB N-terminal domain is required for nuclear localization in Xenopus XL2 cells. In human cells, however, we found both AurA and AurB kinases in the nucleus, AurA being mainly cytoplasmic and AurB mainly nuclear. Both proteins are actively excluded from the nucleus by a CRM1 dependent pathway. Interestingly, at a functional level, in interphase, every combination of Aurora kinase domains (ND-CD) rescues histone H3 Serine10 phosphorylation defect induced by AurB knockdown. This clearly indicates the presence of a functional AurA in the nucleus. Additionally, the chimera ND-AurA/CD-AurB was much more efficient than the ND-AurB/CD-AurA to rescue multinucleation also induced by AurB knockdown. This indicates that the catalytic domain of AurB is required to fulfill specific functions during mitosis that cannot be fulfilled by the catalytic domain of AurA, probably for localization reasons during mitosis.
PMCID: PMC3325910  PMID: 18802402
Animals; Cell Nucleus; metabolism; Cells, Cultured; Centrosome; metabolism; Green Fluorescent Proteins; genetics; metabolism; HeLa Cells; Humans; Interphase; physiology; Protein Structure, Tertiary; Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases; analysis; chemistry; metabolism; Transfection; Xenopus
3.  Aurora A and Aurora B jointly coordinate chromosome segregation and anaphase microtubule dynamics 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;195(7):1103-1113.
Aurora A and Aurora B have nonredundant functions during mitosis in chromosome segregation and anaphase microtubule dynamics.
We established a conditional deletion of Aurora A kinase (AurA) in Cdk1 analogue-sensitive DT40 cells to analyze AurA knockout phenotypes after Cdk1 activation. In the absence of AurA, cells form bipolar spindles but fail to properly align their chromosomes and exit mitosis with segregation errors. The resulting daughter cells exhibit a variety of phenotypes and are highly aneuploid. Aurora B kinase (AurB)–inhibited cells show a similar chromosome alignment problem and cytokinesis defects, resulting in binucleate daughter cells. Conversely, cells lacking AurA and AurB activity exit mitosis without anaphase, forming polyploid daughter cells with a single nucleus. Strikingly, inhibition of both AurA and AurB results in a failure to depolymerize spindle microtubules (MTs) in anaphase after Cdk1 inactivation. These results suggest an essential combined function of AurA and AurB in chromosome segregation and anaphase MT dynamics.
PMCID: PMC3246887  PMID: 22184196
4.  Trichoplein and Aurora A block aberrant primary cilia assembly in proliferating cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;197(3):391-405.
The trichoplein–AurA pathway must suppress primary cilia assembly in order for cells to exit G1.
The primary cilium is an antenna-like organelle that modulates differentiation, sensory functions, and signal transduction. After cilia are disassembled at the G0/G1 transition, formation of cilia is strictly inhibited in proliferating cells. However, the mechanisms of this inhibition are unknown. In this paper, we show that trichoplein disappeared from the basal body in quiescent cells, whereas it localized to mother and daughter centrioles in proliferating cells. Exogenous expression of trichoplein inhibited primary cilia assembly in serum-starved cells, whereas ribonucleic acid interference–mediated depletion induced primary cilia assembly upon cultivation with serum. Trichoplein controlled Aurora A (AurA) activation at the centrioles predominantly in G1 phase. In vitro analyses confirmed that trichoplein bound and activated AurA directly. Using trichoplein mutants, we demonstrate that the suppression of primary cilia assembly by trichoplein required its ability not only to localize to centrioles but also to bind and activate AurA. Trichoplein or AurA knockdown also induced G0/G1 arrest, but this phenotype was reversed when cilia formation was prevented by simultaneous knockdown of IFT-20. These data suggest that the trichoplein–AurA pathway is required for G1 progression through a key role in the continuous suppression of primary cilia assembly.
PMCID: PMC3341160  PMID: 22529102
5.  Constitutive Phosphorylation of Aurora-A on Ser51 Induces Its Stabilization and Consequent Overexpression in Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e944.
The serine/threonine kinase Aurora-A (Aur-A) is a proto-oncoprotein overexpressed in a wide range of human cancers. Overexpression of Aur-A is thought to be caused by gene amplification or mRNA overexpression. However, recent evidence revealed that the discrepancies between amplification of Aur-A and overexpression rates of Aur-A mRNA were observed in breast cancer, gastric cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, and ovarian cancer. We found that aggressive head and neck cancers exhibited overexpression and stabilization of Aur-A protein without gene amplification or mRNA overexpression. Here we tested the hypothesis that aberration of the protein destruction system induces accumulation and consequently overexpression of Aur-A in cancer.
Principal Findings
Aur-A protein was ubiquitinylated by APCCdh1 and consequently degraded when cells exited mitosis, and phosphorylation of Aur-A on Ser51 was observed during mitosis. Phosphorylation of Aur-A on Ser51 inhibited its APCCdh1-mediated ubiquitylation and consequent degradation. Interestingly, constitutive phosphorylation on Ser51 was observed in head and neck cancer cells with protein overexpression and stabilization. Indeed, phosphorylation on Ser51 was observed in head and neck cancer tissues with Aur-A protein overexpression. Moreover, an Aur-A Ser51 phospho-mimetic mutant displayed stabilization of protein during cell cycle progression and enhanced ability to cell transformation.
Broadly, this study identifies a new mode of Aur-A overexpression in cancer through phosphorylation-dependent inhibition of its proteolysis in addition to gene amplification and mRNA overexpression. We suggest that the inhibition of Aur-A phosphorylation can represent a novel way to decrease Aur-A levels in cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC1976594  PMID: 17895985
6.  Aurora-A Identifies Early Recurrence and Poor Prognosis and Promises a Potential Therapeutic Target in Triple Negative Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56919.
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) acquires an unfavorable prognosis, emerging as a major challenge for the treatment of breast cancer. In the present study, 122 TNBC patients were subjected to analysis of Aurora-A (Aur-A) expression and survival prognosis. We found that Aur-A high expression was positively associated with initial clinical stage (P = 0.025), the proliferation marker Ki-67 (P = 0.001), and the recurrence rate of TNBC patients (P<0.001). In TNBC patients with Aur-A high expression, the risk of distant recurrence peaked at the first 3 years and declined rapidly thereafter, whereas patients with Aur-A low expression showed a relatively constant risk of recurrence during the entire follow-up period. Univariate and multivariate analysis showed that overexpression of Aur-A predicted poor overall survival (P = 0.002) and progression-free survival (P = 0.012) in TNBC. Furthermore, overexpression of Aur-A, associated with high Ki-67, predicted an inferior prognosis compared with low expression of both Aur-A and Ki-67. Importantly, we further found that Aur-A was overexpressed in TNBC cells, and inhibition of this kinase inhibited cell proliferation and prevented cell migration in TNBC. Our findings demonstrated that Aur-A was a potential therapeutic target for TNBC and inhibition of Aur-A kinase was a promising regimen for TNBC cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3577665  PMID: 23437271
7.  Aurora A kinase activity influences calcium signaling in kidney cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;193(6):1021-1032.
Aurora A is abnormally expressed and activated in cells lining cysts associated with polycystic kidney disease and can phosphorylate and inactivate polycystin 2.
Most studies of Aurora A (AurA) describe it as a mitotic centrosomal kinase. However, we and others have recently identified AurA functions as diverse as control of ciliary resorption, cell differentiation, and cell polarity control in interphase cells. In these activities, AurA is transiently activated by noncanonical signals, including Ca2+-dependent calmodulin binding. These and other observations suggested that AurA might be involved in pathological conditions, such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD). In this paper, we show that AurA is abundant in normal kidney tissue but is also abnormally expressed and activated in cells lining PKD-associated renal cysts. PKD arises from mutations in the PKD1 or PKD2 genes, encoding polycystins 1 and 2 (PC1 and PC2). AurA binds, phosphorylates, and reduces the activity of PC2, a Ca2+-permeable nonselective cation channel and, thus, limits the amplitude of Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum. These and other findings suggest AurA may be a relevant new biomarker or target in the therapy of PKD.
PMCID: PMC3115793  PMID: 21670214
8.  Nucleophosmin/B23 activates Aurora A at the centrosome through phosphorylation of serine 89 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;197(1):19-26.
Aurora A, which is known to be activated by autophosphorylation at Thr288, is also locally activated during centrosomal maturation by nucleophosmin-mediated phosphorylation at Ser89.
Aurora A (AurA) is a major mitotic protein kinase involved in centrosome maturation and spindle assembly. Nucleophosmin/B23 (NPM) is a pleiotropic nucleolar protein involved in a variety of cellular processes including centrosome maturation. In the present study, we report that NPM is a strong activator of AurA kinase activity. NPM and AurA coimmunoprecipitate and colocalize to centrosomes in G2 phase, where AurA becomes active. In contrast with previously characterized AurA activators, NPM does not trigger autophosphorylation of AurA on threonine 288. NPM induces phosphorylation of AurA on serine 89, and this phosphorylation is necessary for activation of AurA. These data were confirmed in vivo, as depletion of NPM by ribonucleic acid interference eliminated phosphorylation of CDC25B on S353 at the centrosome, indicating a local loss of AurA activity. Our data demonstrate that NPM is a strong activator of AurA kinase activity at the centrosome and support a novel mechanism of activation for AurA.
PMCID: PMC3317798  PMID: 22451695
9.  Inhibition of mitotic kinase Aurora suppresses Akt-1 activation and induces apoptotic cell death in all-trans retinoid acid-resistant acute promyelocytic leukemia cells 
Aurora kinase ensures accurate chromosome segregation during cell cycle, maintaining genetic integrity in cell division. VX-680, a small-molecule Aurora kinase inhibitor, interferes with mitotic entry and formation of bipolar spindles. Here, we evaluated VX-680 as a potential agent for treatment of all-trans retinoid acid (ATRA)-resistant acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in vitro.
CD11b expression was utilized to assess cell differentiation by flow cytometry. Immunofluorescence staining was conducted to analyze formation of cell monopolar spindle. Cell proliferation was evaluated by MTT assay. Sub-G1 population and Annexin V/PI staining were used to measure cell apoptosis. Hoechst 33342 staining was applied for identifying morphological changes in nucleus of apoptotic cell. Aurora-A (Aur-A) activation and the signaling pathways involved in apoptosis were detected by Western blot. JC-1 probe was employed to measure mitochondrial depolarization.
VX-680 inhibited Aur-A by reducing autophosphorylation at the activation site, Thr288, accompanied by producing monopolar mitotic spindles in APL cell line NB4-R2 that was resistant to ATRA. In addition, we found that VX-680 inhibited cell proliferation as assessed by MTT assay. Flow cytometry showed that VX-680 led to apoptotic cell death in both dose- and time-dependent manners by either Sub-G1 or Annexin V/PI analysis. Hoechst 33342 staining represented typical apoptotic cells with nuclear fragmentation in VX-680 treated cells. Importantly, VX-680 inhibition of Aurora kinase suppressed Akt-1 activation and induced mitochondrial depolarization, which eventually resulted in apoptosis by activation of caspase pathway, as indicated by increasing proteolytic cleavage of procaspase-3 and poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) in NB4-R2 cells.
Our study suggested potential clinical use of mitotic Aurora kinase inhibitor in targeting ATRA-resistant leukemic cells.
PMCID: PMC3224588  PMID: 21600017
10.  Zwint-1 is a novel Aurora B substrate required for the assembly of a dynein-binding platform on kinetochores 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(18):3318-3330.
This study identifies zwint-1 as a novel substrate for AurB during mitosis. Phosphorylation is required for outer kinetochore assembly during prometaphase. However, zwint-1 dephosphorylation is required at metaphase for checkpoint silencing.
Aurora B (AurB) is a mitotic kinase responsible for multiple aspects of mitotic progression, including assembly of the outer kinetochore. Cytoplasmic dynein is an abundant kinetochore protein whose recruitment to kinetochores requires phosphorylation. To assess whether AurB regulates recruitment of dynein to kinetochores, we inhibited AurB using ZM447439 or a kinase-dead AurB construct. Inhibition of AurB reduced accumulation of dynein at kinetochores substantially; however, this reflected a loss of dynein-associated proteins rather than a defect in dynein phosphorylation. We determined that AurB inhibition affected recruitment of the ROD, ZW10, zwilch (RZZ) complex to kinetochores but not zwint-1 or more-proximal kinetochore proteins. AurB phosphorylated zwint-1 but not ZW10 in vitro, and three novel phosphorylation sites were identified by tandem mass spectrometry analysis. Expression of a triple-Ala zwint-1 mutant blocked kinetochore assembly of RZZ-dependent proteins and induced defects in chromosome movement during prometaphase. Expression of a triple-Glu zwint-1 mutant rendered cells resistant to AurB inhibition during prometaphase. However, cells expressing the triple-Glu mutant failed to satisfy the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) at metaphase because poleward streaming of dynein/dynactin/RZZ was inhibited. These studies identify zwint-1 as a novel AurB substrate required for kinetochore assembly and for proper SAC silencing at metaphase.
PMCID: PMC3172258  PMID: 21775627
11.  Aurora-A is a novel predictor of poor prognosis in patients with resected lung adenocarcinoma 
The Aurora-A (Aur-A) gene, a key regulator of mitosis, has been proved as an oncogene in a variety of cancers. The Aur-A overexpression has been proved correlated with aggressiveness of cancer cells. However, the frequency of Aur-A protein overexpression, as well as its association with clinicopathologic parameters and prognosis remain unclear in lung adenocarcinoma (ADC). This study tried to clarify the clinical significance of Aur-A in patients with resected lung ADC.
Patients and methods
A total of 142 informative patients with surgically resected lung ADC and 20 normal lung tissues were enrolled. Western blot and immunohistochemistry (IHC) were utilized to assess protein expression of Aur-A.
The expression of Aur-A was elevated in most of tumor tissues compared with the adjacent tissues by western blot. The IHC results showed that Aur-A protein was over-expressed in 98 of 142 (69.0%) tumor sections, while Aur-A was low-expressed in all normal lung sections. A positive correlation between Aur-A overexpression rate and ascending pathologic stages was observed (P<0.05). Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated that patients with Aur-A high expression had significantly inferior survival compared to those with Aur-A low expression. Both overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) of positive overexpression patients were shorter than the negative group (P=0.036, P=0.041, respectively). Multivariate analysis confirmed that Aur-A expression, as an independent and significant factor for both DFS and OS, could predict a poor prognosis in patients with resected lung ADC (P=0.022, P=0.049, respectively).
Aur-A was overexpressed in lung ADC and overexpression of Aur-A might be a novel predictor for poor prognosis and potential therapeutic target in lung ADC.
PMCID: PMC4000897  PMID: 24826057
Aurora-A (Aur-A); lung adenocarcinoma (ADC); prognosis
12.  The negative interplay between Aurora A/B and BRCA1/2 controls cancer cell growth and tumorigenesis via distinct regulation of cell cycle progression, cytokinesis, and tetraploidy 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:94.
It is well known that the activation of Aurora A/B (Aur A/B) or inactivation of BRCA1/2 induces tumor formation. Others and we have reported that the mutual suppression between Aur A/B and BRCA1/2 may manipulate cancer cell growth and tumorigenesis, however, the interactive regulation and mechanism between these molecules are still elusive. In this study, by consecutive silencing of Aur A/B or/and BRCA1/2 with specific shRNAs, we showed that, in BRCA2-deficient pancreatic cancer cell line Capan-1 and in ovarian cancer cell line OVCA433, Aur A/B and BRCA1/2 inversely regulated the expression of each other likely through proteasome-mediated proteolysis but not through gene transcription. Aur A/B and BRCA1/2 conversely regulated cell cycle progression mainly through control of p53 and cyclin A. Moreover, the disruption of Aur A/B blocked abnormal cytokinesis and decreased cell multinuclearity and chromosome tetraploidy, whereas the deprivation of BRCA1/2 promoted the abnormal cytokinesis and enhanced the cell multinuclearity and tetraploidy. Furthermore, we showed by animal assays that the depletion of Aur A/B inhibited tumor growth of both cell lines, while the knockdown of BRCA1/2 promoted the tumor growth. However, the concurrent silencing of Aur A/B and BRCA1/2 diminished the effects of these molecules on the regulation of cell cycle, cytokinesis, and tetraploidy, leading to the burdened tumor sizes similar to those induced by scrambled shRNA-treated control cells. In summary, our study revealed that the negative interplay between Aur A/B and BRCA1/2 inversely controls the cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, cell multinuclearity, and tetraploidization to modulate tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC4028103  PMID: 24775809
Aurora A/B; BRCA1/2; Cell cycle; Cytokinesis; Tetraploidy; Tumorigenesis
13.  Aurora A is involved in central spindle assembly through phosphorylation of Ser 19 in P150Glued 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;201(1):65-79.
A human Aurora A kinase engineered to be specifically inhibited by the ATP analog 1-Na-PP1 allows dissection of a novel role for this protein in central spindle assembly.
Knowledge of Aurora A kinase functions is limited to premetaphase events, particularly centrosome maturation, G2/M transition, and mitotic spindle assembly. The involvement of Aurora A in events after metaphase has only been suggested because appropriate experiments are technically difficult. We report here the design of the first human Aurora A kinase (as-AurA) engineered by chemical genetics techniques. This kinase is fully functional biochemically and in cells, and is rapidly and specifically inhibited by the ATP analogue 1-Naphthyl-PP1 (1-Na-PP1). By treating cells exclusively expressing the as-AurA with 1-Na-PP1, we discovered that Aurora A is required for central spindle assembly in anaphase through phosphorylation of Ser 19 of P150Glued. This paper thus describes a new Aurora A function that takes place after the metaphase-to-anaphase transition and a new powerful tool to search for and study new Aurora A functions.
PMCID: PMC3613693  PMID: 23547029
14.  HEF1-dependent Aurora A activation induces disassembly of the primary cilium 
Cell  2007;129(7):1351-1363.
The mammalian cilium protrudes from the apical/lumenal surface of polarized cells, and acts as a sensor of environmental cues. Numerous developmental disorders and pathological conditions have been shown to arise from defects in cilia-associated signaling proteins. Despite mounting evidence that cilia are essential sites for coordination of cell signaling, little is known about the cellular mechanisms controlling their formation and disassembly. Here we show that define interactions between the pro-metastatic scaffolding protein HEF1/Cas-L/NEDD9 and the oncogenic Aurora A (AurA) kinase at the basal body of cilia causes phosphorylation and activation of HDAC6, a tubulin deacetylase, promoting ciliary disassembly. We show that this pathway is both necessary and sufficient for ciliary resorption, and constitutes an unexpected non-mitotic activity of AurA in vertebrates. Moreover, we demonstrate that small molecule inhibitors of AurA and HDAC6 selectively stabilize cilia from regulated resorption cues, suggesting a novel mode of action for these clinical agents.
PMCID: PMC2504417  PMID: 17604723
15.  The focal adhesion scaffolding protein HEF1 regulates activation of the Aurora-A and Nek2 kinases at the centrosome 
Nature cell biology  2005;7(10):937-946.
Although HEF1 has a well-defined role in integrin-dependent attachment signaling at focal adhesions, it relocalizes to the spindle asters at mitosis. We report here that overexpression of HEF1 causes increase in centrosome numbers and multipolar spindles, resembling defects induced by manipulation of the mitotic regulatory kinase Aurora A (AurA). We show that HEF1 associates with and controls activation of AurA. We also show HEF1 depletion causes centrosomal splitting, monoastral spindles, and hyperactivation of Nek2, implying additional action earlier in cell cycle. These results provide new insights into the role of an adhesion protein in coordination of cell attachment and division.
PMCID: PMC2652766  PMID: 16184168
HEF1; centrosome; spindle; mitosis; Aurora-A; Nek2
16.  RNA Stimulates Aurora B Kinase Activity during Mitosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100748.
Accurate chromosome segregation is essential for cell viability. The mitotic spindle is crucial for chromosome segregation, but much remains unknown about factors that regulate spindle assembly. Recent work implicates RNA in promoting proper spindle assembly independently of mRNA translation; however, the mechanism by which RNA performs this function is currently unknown. Here, we show that RNA regulates both the localization and catalytic activity of the mitotic kinase, Aurora-B (AurB), which is present in a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex with many mRNAs. Interestingly, AurB kinase activity is reduced in Xenopus egg extracts treated with RNase, and its activity is stimulated in vitro by RNA binding. Spindle assembly defects following RNase-treatment are partially rescued by inhibiting MCAK, a microtubule depolymerase that is inactivated by AurB-dependent phosphorylation. These findings implicate AurB as an important RNA-dependent spindle assembly factor, and demonstrate a translation-independent role for RNA in stimulating AurB.
PMCID: PMC4072698  PMID: 24968351
17.  Aurora B regulates spindle bipolarity in meiosis in vertebrate oocytes 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(14):2672-2680.
Aurora B (Aur-B) plays multiple roles in mitosis, of which the best known are to ensure bi-orientation of sister chromatids by destabilizing incorrectly attached kinetochore microtubules and to participate in cytokinesis. Studies in Xenopus egg extracts, however, have indicated that Aur-B and the chromosome passenger complex play an important role in stabilizing chromosome-associated spindle microtubules. Aur-B stabilizes spindle microtubules in the egg extracts by inhibiting the catastrophe kinesin MCAK. Whether or not Aur-B plays a similar role in intact oocytes remains unknown. Here we have employed a dominant-negative Aur-B mutant (Aur-B122R, in which the ATP-binding lysine122 is replaced with arginine) to investigate the function of Aur-B in spindle assembly in Xenopus oocytes undergoing meiosis. Overexpression of Aur-B122R results in short bipolar spindles or monopolar spindles, with higher concentrations of Aur-B122R producing mostly the latter. Simultaneous inhibition of MCAK translation in oocytes overexpressing Aur-B122R results in suppression of monopolar phenotype, suggesting that Aur-B regulates spindle bipolarity by inhibiting MCAK. Furthermore, recombinant MCAK-4A protein, which lacks all four Aur-B phosphoryaltion sites and is therefore insensitive to Aur-B inhibition but not wild-type MCAK, recapitulated the monopolar phenotype in the oocytes. These results suggest that in vertebrate oocytes that lack centrosomes, one major function of Aur-B is to stabilize chromosome-associated spindle microtubules to ensure spindle bipolarity.
PMCID: PMC3409009  PMID: 22751439
Aur-B; MCAK; Xenopus; meiosis; monopolar spindle
18.  Susceptibility of Human Head and Neck Cancer Cells to Combined Inhibition of Glutathione and Thioredoxin Metabolism 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48175.
Increased glutathione (GSH) and thioredoxin (Trx) metabolism are mechanisms that are widely implicated in resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy. The current study determined if simultaneous inhibition of GSH and Trx metabolism enhanced cell killing of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cells by a mechanism involving oxidative stress. Inhibition of GSH and Trx metabolism with buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) and auranofin (AUR), respectively, induced significant decreases in clonogenic survival compared to either drug alone in FaDu, Cal-27 and SCC-25 HNSCC cells in vitro and in vivo in Cal-27 xenografts. BSO+AUR significantly increased glutathione and thioredoxin oxidation and suppressed peroxiredoxin activity in vitro. Pre-treatment with N-acetylcysteine completely reversed BSO+AUR-induced cell killing in FaDu and Cal-27 cells, while catalase and selenium supplementation only inhibited BSO+AUR-induced cell killing in FaDu cells. BSO+AUR decreased caspase 3/7 activity in HNSCC cells and significantly reduced the viability of both Bax/Bak double knockout (DKO) and DKO-Bax reconstituted hematopoietic cells suggesting that necrosis was involved. BSO+AUR also significantly sensitized FaDu, Cal-27, SCC-25 and SQ20B cells to cell killing induced by the EGFR inhibitor Erlotinib in vitro. These results support the conclusion that simultaneous inhibition of GSH and Trx metabolism pathways induces oxidative stress and clonogenic killing in HNSCCs and this strategy may be useful in sensitizing HNSCCs to EGFR inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3485193  PMID: 23118946
19.  Engagement of tumor necrosis factor mRNA by an endotoxin-inducible cytoplasmic protein. 
Molecular Medicine  1996;2(4):479-488.
BACKGROUND: Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) production by macrophages plays an important role in the host response to infection. TNF-alpha gene expression in RAW 264.7 macrophages is predominantly regulated at the translational level. A key element in this regulation is an AU-rich (AUR) sequence located in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of TNF mRNA. In unstimulated macrophages, the translation of TNF mRNA is inhibited via this AUR sequence. Upon stimulation with LPS, this repression is overcome and translation occurs. In this study, we attempted to identify cellular proteins that interact with the AUR sequence and thereby regulate TNF mRNA translation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: RNA probes corresponding to portions of TNF mRNA 3' UTR were synthesized. These labeled RNAs were incubated with cytoplasmic extracts of either unstimulated or lipopolysaccharides (LPS)-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages. The RNA/protein complexes formed were analyzed by gel retardation. Ultraviolet (UV) cross-linking experiments were performed to determine the molecular weight of the proteins involved in the complexes. RESULTS: TNF mRNA AUR sequence formed two complexes (1 and 2) of distinct electrophoretic mobilities. While the formation of complex 1 was independent of the activation state of the macrophages from which the extracts were obtained, complex 2 was detected only using cytoplasmic extracts from LPS-stimulated macrophages. Upon UV cross-linking, two proteins, of 50 and 80 kD, respectively, were capable of binding the UAR sequence. The 50-kD protein is likely to be part of the LPS-inducible complex 2, since its binding ability was enhanced upon LPS stimulation. Interestingly, complex 2 formation was also triggered by Sendaï virus infection, another potent activator of TNF mRNA translation in RAW 264.7 macrophages. In contrast, complex 2 was not detected with cytoplasmic extracts obtained from B and T cell lines which are unable to produce TNF in response to LPS. Protein tyrosine phosphorylation is required for LPS-induced TNF mRNA translation. Remarkably, the protein tyrosine phosphorylation inhibitor herbimycin A abolished LPS-induced complex 2 formation. Complex 2 was already detectable after 0.5 hr of LPS treatment and was triggered by a minimal LPS dose of 10 pg/ml. CONCLUSIONS: The tight correlation between TNF production and the formation of an LPS-inducible cytoplasmic complex suggests that this complex plays a role in the translational regulation of TNF mRNA.
PMCID: PMC2230167  PMID: 8827718
20.  A Leukemic Stem Cell Gene Expression Signature is Associated with Clinical Outcomes in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
In many cancers, specific subpopulations of cells appear to be uniquely capable of initiating and maintaining tumors. The strongest support for this cancer stem cell model comes from transplantation assays in immune-deficient mice, which indicate that human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is driven by self-renewing leukemia stem cells (LSC). This model has significant implications for the development of novel therapies, but its clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
To identify a leukemic stem cell gene expression signature and test its association with clinical outcomes in AML.
Design, Setting, and Patients
Global gene expression (microarray) profiles of LSC-enriched subpopulations from primary AML and normal patient samples were analyzed. Patient samples were obtained at Stanford University Medical Center between April 2005 and July 2007. Validation datasets of global transcriptional profiles of AML tumors from four independent cohorts totaling 1047 patients were analyzed retrospectively.
Main Outcome Measures
Identification of genes discriminating LSC-enriched from other subpopulations in AML tumors; association of the LSC-specific genes with overall, event-free, and relapse-free survival, and with therapeutic response.
Expression levels of 52 genes distinguished LSC-enriched from other subpopulations in cell-sorted AML samples. An LSC score summarizing expression of these genes in bulk primary AML tumor samples was defined and found to be associated with clinical outcomes in four independent patient cohorts. High LSC scores were associated with worse overall (OS), event-free (EFS), and relapse-free (RFS) survival, among patients with either a normal karyotype (NKAML), or with chromosomal abnormalities. For the largest cohort of patients with NKAML (n=163), the LSC score was significantly associated with OS as a continuous variable (hazard ratios [HR] 1.15, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 1.08-1.22, log-likelihood p<0.001). When patients were split into high and low LSC score groups, the absolute risk of death by 3 years was 57% (95% CI 43-67%) for the low LSC score group, versus 78% (95% CI 66-86%) in the high LSC score group (HR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3-2.7, log-rank p=0.002). In another cohort with available data on EFS for 70 patients with NKAML, the risk of an event by 3 years was 48% (95% CI 27-63%) in the low LSC score group vs. 81% (95% CI 60-91%) in the high LSC score group (HR 2.4, 95% CI 1.3-4.5, log-rank p=0.006). The LSC score was associated with poorer outcomes, independently of known prognostic factors including age, FLT3 or NPM1 mutations, and cytogenetic risk group, and added to their prognostic value. For OS in three cohorts that included patients with cytogenetic abnormalities, the HRs of the continuous LSC score in multivariate Cox regression with FLT3/NPM1 status, age, and cytogenetic risk group were respectively HR 1.07 (95%CI 1.01-1.13), p=0.02; HR 1.10 (95% CI 1.03-1.17), p=0.005; and HR 1.17 (95% CI 1.05-1.30), p=0.005.
High expression of a leukemic stem cell gene expression signature is independently associated with adverse outcomes in AML.
PMCID: PMC4089862  PMID: 21177505
21.  Aurora kinase-C-T191D is constitutively active mutant 
BMC Cell Biology  2012;13:8.
Aurora kinases (Aurora-A, B and C) belong to a family of conserved serine/threonine kinases which are key regulators of cell cycle progression. Aurora-A and Aurora-B are expressed in somatic cells and involved in cell cycle regulation while aurora-C is meiotic chromosome passenger protein. As Aurora kinase C is rarely expressed in normal somatic cells and has been found over expressed in many cancer lines. It is suggested that Aurora-C-T191D is not hyperactive mutant.
Aurora-C-T191D variant form was investigated and compared with wild type. The overexpression of Aurora-C-T191D was observed that it behaves like Aurora-C wild type (aurC-WT). Both Aurora-C-T191D and aurC-WT induce abnormal cell division resulting in centrosome amplification and multinucleation in transiently transfected cells as well as in stable cell lines. Similarly, Aurora-C-T191D and aurC-WT formed foci of colonies when grown on soft agar, indicating that a gain of Aurora-C activity is sufficient to transform cells. Furthermore, we reported that NIH-3 T3 stable cell lines overexpressing Aurora-C-T191D and its wild type partner induced tumour formation when injected into nude mice, demonstrating the oncogenic activity of enzymatically active Aurora kinase C. Interestingly enough tumour aggressiveness was positively correlated with the rate of kinase activity, making Aurora-C a potential anti-cancer therapeutic target.
These findings proved that Aurora C-T191D is not hyperactive but is constitutively active mutant.
PMCID: PMC3324370  PMID: 22443468
Aurora-C; Oncogene; Centrosome; Multinucleation; Tumour
22.  Immunomodulatory effects of therapeutic gold compounds. Gold sodium thiomalate inhibits the activity of T cell protein kinase C. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1992;89(6):1839-1848.
Previous studies have shown that the gold compounds, gold sodium thiomalate (GST) and auranofin (AUR), which are effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, inhibit functional activities of a variety of cells, but the biochemical basis of their effect is unknown. In the current studies, human T cell proliferation and interleukin 2 production by Jurkat cells were inhibited by GST or AUR at pharmacologically relevant concentrations. Because it has been documented that protein kinase C (PKC) is involved in T cell activation, the capacity of gold compounds to inhibit PKC partially purified from Jurkat cells was assayed in vitro. GST was found to inhibit PKC in a dose-dependent manner, but AUR caused no significant inhibition of PKC at pharmacologically relevant concentrations. The inhibitory effect of GST on PKC was abolished by 2-mercaptoethanol. To investigate the effect of GST on the regulation of PKC in vivo, the levels of PKC activity in Jurkat cells were examined. Cytosolic PKC activity decreased slowly in a concentration- and time-dependent manner as a result of incubation of Jurkat cells with GST. To ascertain whether GST inhibited PKC translocation and down-regulation, PKC activities associated with the membrane and cystosolic fractions were evaluated after phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) stimulation of GST incubated Jurkat cells. Translocation of PKC was markedly inhibited by pretreatment of Jurkat cells with GST for 3 d, but the capacity of PMA to down-regulate PKC activity in Jurkat cells was not altered by GST preincubation. The functional impact of GST-mediated downregulation of PKC in Jurkat cells was examined by analyzing PMA-stimulated phosphorylation of CD3. Although GST preincubated Jurkat cells exhibited an increased density of CD3, PMA-stimulated phosphorylation of the gamma chain of CD3 was markedly inhibited. Specificity for the inhibitory effect of GST on PKC was suggested by the finding that GST did not alter the mitogen-induced increases in inositol trisphosphate levels in Jurkat cells. Finally, the mechanism of the GST-induced inhibition of PKC was examined in detail, using purified PKC subspecies from rat brain. GST inhibited type II PKC more effectively than type III PKC, and also inhibited the enzymatic activity of the isolated catalytic fragment of PKC. The inhibitory effect of GST on PKC activity could not be explained by competition with phospholipid or nonspecific interference with the substrate. These data suggest that the immunomodulatory effects of GST may result from its capacity to inhibit PKC activity.
PMCID: PMC295882  PMID: 1351061
23.  Aurora-A is an efficient marker for predicting poor prognosis in human nasopharyngeal carcinoma with aggressive local invasion: 208 cases with a 10-year follow-up from a single institution 
Oncology Letters  2012;3(6):1237-1244.
Aurora-A kinase (Aur-A), a member of a family of mitotic serine/threonine kinases, is known to be amplified in epithelial malignancies. In this study, we focused our investigation on Aur-A expression and its prognostic significance in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Immunohistochemical staining for Aur-A was performed on the paraffin sections of 208 patients with NPC. Data were subjected to statistical analysis with respect to clinicopathological variables, overall survival and disease-free survival. An immunohistochemical analysis showed that Aur-A was highly expressed in 132 (63.5%) of the 208 NPC tissues examined. Aur-A expression was significantly correlated with T classification (P=0.012), clinical stage (P=0.003) and skull base invasion (P=0.003). Statistical analysis showed that Aur-A expression was inversely correlated with the 10-year overall and disease-free survival rates of NPC patients. Results of the multivariate analysis revealed that Aur-A expression was an independent prognostic indicator for patient survival. More significantly, Aur-A was found to be a marker for poor survival, which was mainly attributed to its high expression in the subgroup of T4 tumor classification with aggressive local invasion. These results indicated that Aur-A expression is inversely correlated with survival and directly correlated with the malignant status of NPC. Therefore, Aur-A may serve as a potential biological marker for poor prognosis in the T4 subgroup of patients.
PMCID: PMC3392567  PMID: 22783425
nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Aurora-A; prognosis; T4 subgroup patients
24.  Isoform-Specific Potentiation of Stem and Progenitor Cell Engraftment by AML1/RUNX1  
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e172.
AML1/RUNX1 is the most frequently mutated gene in leukaemia and is central to the normal biology of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. However, the role of different AML1 isoforms within these primitive compartments is unclear. Here we investigate whether altering relative expression of AML1 isoforms impacts the balance between cell self-renewal and differentiation in vitro and in vivo.
Methods and Findings
The human AML1a isoform encodes a truncated molecule with DNA-binding but no transactivation capacity. We used a retrovirus-based approach to transduce AML1a into primitive haematopoietic cells isolated from the mouse. We observed that enforced AML1a expression increased the competitive engraftment potential of murine long-term reconstituting stem cells with the proportion of AML1a-expressing cells increasing over time in both primary and secondary recipients. Furthermore, AML1a expression dramatically increased primitive and committed progenitor activity in engrafted animals as assessed by long-term culture, cobblestone formation, and colony assays. In contrast, expression of the full-length isoform AML1b abrogated engraftment potential. In vitro, AML1b promoted differentiation while AML1a promoted proliferation of progenitors capable of short-term lymphomyeloid engraftment. Consistent with these findings, the relative abundance of AML1a was highest in the primitive stem/progenitor compartment of human cord blood, and forced expression of AML1a in these cells enhanced maintenance of primitive potential both in vitro and in vivo.
These data demonstrate that the “a” isoform of AML1 has the capacity to potentiate stem and progenitor cell engraftment, both of which are required for successful clinical transplantation. This activity is consistent with its expression pattern in both normal and leukaemic cells. Manipulating the balance of AML1 isoform expression may offer novel therapeutic strategies, exploitable in the contexts of leukaemia and also in cord blood transplantation in adults, in whom stem and progenitor cell numbers are often limiting.
The truncated "a" isoform of AML1 is shown to have the capacity to potentiate stem and progenitor cell engraftment, both of which are required for successful clinical transplantation.
Editors' Summary
Blood contains red blood cells (which carry oxygen round the body), platelets (which help the blood to clot), and white blood cells (which fight off infections). All these cells, which are regularly replaced, are derived from hematopoietic stem cells, blood-forming cells present in the bone marrow. Like all stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells self-renew (reproduce themselves) and produce committed progenitor cells, which develop into mature blood cells in a process called hematopoiesis. Many proteins control hematopoiesis, some of which are called transcription factors; these factors bind to DNA through their DNA-binding domain and then control the expression of genes (that is, how DNA is turned into proteins) through particular parts of the protein (their transcription regulatory domains). An important hematopoietic transcription factor is AML1—a protein first identified because of its involvement in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML, a form of blood cancer). Mutations (changes) in the AML1 gene are now known to be present in other types of leukemia, which are often characterized by overproliferation of immature blood cells.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because of AML1′s crucial role in hematopoiesis, knowing more about which genes it regulates and how its activity is regulated could provide clues to treating leukemia and to improving hematopoietic cell transplantation. Many cancer treatments destroy hematopoietic stem cells, leaving patients vulnerable to infection. Transplants of bone marrow or cord blood (the cord that links mother and baby during pregnancy contains peripheral blood stem cells) can replace the missing cells, but cord blood in particular often contains insufficient stem cells for successful transplantation. It would be useful, therefore, to expand the stem cell content of these tissues before transplantation. In this study, the researchers investigated the effect of AML1 on self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in the laboratory (in vitro) and in animals (in vivo). In particular, they have asked how two isoforms (closely related versions) of AML1 affect the ability of these cells to grow and differentiate (engraft) in mice after transplantation.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers artificially expressed AML1a and AML1b (both isoforms contain a DNA binding domain, but only AML1b has transcription regulatory domains) in mouse hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and then tested the cells' ability to engraft in mice. AML1a-expressing cells engrafted better than unaltered cells and outgrew unaltered cells when transplanted as a mixture. AML1b-expressing cells, however, did not engraft. In vitro, AML1a-expressing cells grew more than AML1b-expressing cells, whereas differentiation was promoted in AML1b-expressing cells. To investigate whether the isoforms have the same effects in human cells, the researchers measured the amount of AML1a and AML1b mRNA (the template for protein production) made by progenitor cells in human cord blood. Although AML1b (together with AML1c, an isoform with similar characteristics) mRNA predominated in all the progenitor cell types, the relative abundance of AML1a was greatest in the stem and progenitor cells. Furthermore, forced expression of AML1a in these cells improved their ability to divide in vitro and to engraft in mice.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that AML1a expression increases the self-renewal capacity of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and consequently improves their ability to engraft in mice, whereas AML1b expression encourages the differentiation of these cell types. These activities are consistent with the expression patterns of the two isoforms in normal hematopoietic cells and in leukemic cells—the mutated AML made by many leukemic cells resembles AML1a. Because the AML1 isoforms were expressed at higher than normal levels in these experiments, the physiological relevance of these findings needs to be confirmed by showing that normal levels of AML1a and AML1b produce similar results. Nevertheless, these results suggest that manipulating the balance of AML1 isoforms made by hematopoietic cells might be useful clinically. In leukemia, a shift toward AML1b expression might slow the proliferation of leukemic cells and encourage their differentiation. Conversely, in cord blood transplantation, a shift toward AML1a expression might improve patient outcomes by expanding the stem and progenitor cell populations.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia has pages on hematopoiesis and hematopoietic stem cells (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Cancer Institute has a fact sheet on bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (in English and Spanish) and information for patients and professionals on leukemia (in English)
The American Society of Hematology provides patient information about blood diseases, including information on bone marrow and stem cell transplantation
PMCID: PMC1868041  PMID: 17503961
25.  Drosophila Aurora A kinase is required to localize D-TACC to centrosomes and to regulate astral microtubules 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2002;156(3):437-451.
Disruption of the function of the A-type Aurora kinase of Drosophila by mutation or RNAi leads to a reduction in the length of astral microtubules in syncytial embryos, larval neuroblasts, and cultured S2 cells. In neuroblasts, it can also lead to loss of an organized centrosome and its associated aster from one of the spindle poles, whereas the centrosome at the other pole has multiple centrioles. When centrosomes are present at the poles of aurA mutants or aurA RNAi spindles, they retain many antigens but are missing the Drosophila counterpart of mammalian transforming acidic coiled coil (TACC) proteins, D-TACC. We show that a subpopulation of the total Aurora A is present in a complex with D-TACC, which is a substrate for the kinase. We propose that one of the functions of Aurora A kinase is to direct centrosomal organization such that D-TACC complexed to the MSPS/XMAP215 microtubule-associated protein may be recruited, and thus modulate the behavior of astral microtubules.
PMCID: PMC2173350  PMID: 11827981
Aurora A; D-TACC; mitosis; centrosomes; microtubule

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