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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.  Inhibition of Aurora A promotes chemosensitivity via inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in cervical cancer cells 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2015;5(3):1133-1145.
Aurora kinase A (AurA) regulates genomic instability and tumorigenesis in multiple cancer types. Although some studies have reported that Aur A may predict cervical cancer outcomes, its precise function and molecular mechanism in cervical cancer pathogenesis remain unclear. In this study, by overexpression or silencing of Aur A in cervical cancer cell lines, we found that overexpression of Aur A promoted cell proliferation through G1/S cell cycle transition and anti-apoptosis, xenograft tumor growth and chemoresistance to Taxol. We further found that inhibition of Aur A with its specific inhibitor VX-680 enhanced the antitumor effect of Taxol via inducing apoptosis. Moreover, the clinical analysis from tissue samples demonstrated that Aur A was overexpressed, and the expression of Aur A and pERK1/2 was negatively correlated in cervical cancer tissues. The above results may provide some potential insights in treatment of cervical cancer in clinic.
PMCID: PMC4449441  PMID: 26045992
Aurora A; VX-680; Taxol; chemoresistance; cervical cancer
3.  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
4.  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
5.  Fibrillin-1, induced by Aurora-A but inhibited by BRCA2, promotes ovarian cancer metastasis 
Oncotarget  2015;6(9):6670-6683.
While Aurora-A (Aur A) provokes, BRCA2 restrains primary tumorigenesis, the roles of Aur A and BRCA2 in cancer metastasis remains unclear. Here, we show that the metastatic promoting markers SLUG, FBN1, and MMP2, 9, 13 are either stimulated or suppressed by Aur A or BRCA2, but the metastatic suppressors E-cadherin, β-catenin, and p53 are either inhibited or promoted by Aur A or BRCA2, leading to enhanced or reduced cell migration and invasion. Further study suggests that FBN1 inhibits E-cadherin and β-catenin, but stimulates MMP2, 9, 13. Depletion of SLUG abrogates FBN1 and MMP9, but increases E-cadherin, while p53 decreases both SLUG and FBN1. Animal assays demonstrate that FBN1 promotes both ovarian tumorigenesis and metastasis. Clinically, overexpression of BRCA2 or Aur A in ovarian cancer tissues predicts good or poor overall and disease free survivals. High expression of SLUG or FBN1 indicates poor overall survivals, whereas high expression of FBN1 but not of SLUG predicts poor disease free survival. No significant associations between p53 expression and patient survivals were found. Overall, FBN1, acts at the downstream of Aur A and BRCA2, promotes ovarian cancer metastasis through the p53 and SLUG-associated signaling, which may be useful for ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC4466642  PMID: 25749384
Aurora-A; BRCA2; FBN1; SLUG; Metastasis
6.  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
7.  Primary cilia in stem cells and neural progenitors are regulated by neutral sphingomyelinase 2 and ceramide 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(11):1715-1729.
Human embryonic stem and induced pluripotent stem cell–derived neuroprogenitors (NPs) develop primary cilia. Ciliogenesis depends on the sphingolipid ceramide and its interaction with atypical PKC, both of which distribute to the primary cilium and the apicolateral cell membrane in NP rosettes.
We show here that human embryonic stem (ES) and induced pluripotent stem cell–derived neuroprogenitors (NPs) develop primary cilia. Ciliogenesis depends on the sphingolipid ceramide and its interaction with atypical PKC (aPKC), both of which distribute to the primary cilium and the apicolateral cell membrane in NP rosettes. Neural differentiation of human ES cells to NPs is concurrent with a threefold elevation of ceramide—in particular, saturated, long-chain C16:0 ceramide (N-palmitoyl sphingosine) and nonsaturated, very long chain C24:1 ceramide (N-nervonoyl sphingosine). Decreasing ceramide levels by inhibiting ceramide synthase or neutral sphingomyelinase 2 leads to translocation of membrane-bound aPKC to the cytosol, concurrent with its activation and the phosphorylation of its substrate Aurora kinase A (AurA). Inhibition of aPKC, AurA, or a downstream target of AurA, HDAC6, restores ciliogenesis in ceramide-depleted cells. Of importance, addition of exogenous C24:1 ceramide reestablishes membrane association of aPKC, restores primary cilia, and accelerates neural process formation. Taken together, these results suggest that ceramide prevents activation of HDAC6 by cytosolic aPKC and AurA, which promotes acetylation of tubulin in primary cilia and, potentially, neural processes. This is the first report on the critical role of ceramide generated by nSMase2 in stem cell ciliogenesis and differentiation.
PMCID: PMC4038499  PMID: 24694597
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  Aurora kinase A suppresses metabolic stress-induced autophagic cell death by activating mTOR signaling in breast cancer cells 
Oncotarget  2014;5(17):7498-7511.
Aberrant Aur-A signaling is associated with tumor malignant behaviors. However, its involvement in tumor metabolic stress is not fully elucidated. In the present study, prolonged nutrient deprivation was conducted into breast cancer cells to mimic metabolic stress in tumors. In these cells, autophagy was induced, leading to caspase-independent cell death, which was blocked by either targeted knockdown of autophagic gene ATG5 or autophagy inhibitor 3-Methyladenine (3-MA). Aur-A overexpression mediated resistance to autophagic cell death and promoted breast cancer cells survival when exposed to metabolic stress. Moreover, we provided evidence that Aur-A suppressed autophagy in a kinase-dependent manner. Furthermore, we revealed that Aur-A overexpression enhanced the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activity under metabolic stress by inhibiting glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β). Inhibition of mTOR activity by rapamycin sensitized Aur-A-overexpressed breast cancer cells to metabolic stress-induced cell death. Consistently, we presented an inverse correlation between Aur-A expression (high) and autophagic levels (low) in clinical breast cancer samples. In conclusion, our data provided a novel insight into the cyto-protective role of Aur-A against metabolic stress by suppressing autophagic cell death, which might help to develop alternative cell death avenues for breast cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC4202139  PMID: 25115395
aurora kinase; metabolic stress; autophagy; cell death; breast cancer
12.  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
13.  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
14.  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
15.  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
16.  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
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  Aurora-A kinase-inactive mutants disrupt the interaction with Ajuba and cause defects in mitotic spindle formation and G2/M phase arrest in HeLa cells 
BMB Reports  2014;47(11):631-636.
Aurora-A is a centrosome-localized serine/threonine kinase that is overexpressed in multiple human cancers. We previously reported an intramolecular inhibitory regulation of Aurora-A between its N-terminal regulatory domain (Nt, amino acids [aa] 1-128) and the C-terminal catalytic domain (Cd, aa 129-403). Here, we demonstrate that although both Aurora-A mutants (AurA-K250G and AurA-D294G/Y295G) lacked interactions between the Nt and Cd, they also failed to interact with Ajuba, an essential activator of Aurora-A, leading to loss of kinase activity. Additionally, overexpression of either of the mutants resulted in centrosome amplification and mitotic spindle formation defects. Both mutants were also able to cause G2/M arrest and apoptosis. These results indicate that both K250 and D294/Y295 are critical for direct interaction between Aurora-A and Ajuba and the function of the Aurora-A complex in cell cycle progression. [BMB Reports 2014; 47(11): 631-636]
PMCID: PMC4281342  PMID: 24499673
Ajuba; Aurora-A; Autophosphorylation; Cell cycle; Centrosome
21.  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
22.  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
23.  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
24.  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
25.  Clinically used antirheumatic agent auranofin is a proteasomal deubiquitinase inhibitor and inhibits tumor growth 
Oncotarget  2014;5(14):5453-5471.
Proteasomes are attractive emerging targets for anti-cancer therapies. Auranofin (Aur), a gold-containing compound clinically used to treat rheumatic arthritis, was recently approved by US Food and Drug Administration for Phase II clinical trial to treat cancer but its anti-cancer mechanism is poorly understood. Here we report that (i) Aur shows proteasome-inhibitory effect that is comparable to that of bortezomib/Velcade (Vel); (ii) different from bortezomib, Aur inhibits proteasome-associated deubiquitinases (DUBs) UCHL5 and USP14 rather than the 20S proteasome; (iii) inhibition of the proteasome-associated DUBs is required for Aur-induced cytotoxicity; and (iv) Aur selectively inhibits tumor growth in vivo and induces cytotoxicity in cancer cells from acute myeloid leukemia patients. This study provides important novel insight into understanding the proteasome-inhibiting property of metal-containing compounds. Although several DUB inhibitors were reported, this study uncovers the first drug already used in clinic that can inhibit proteasome-associated DUBs with promising anti-tumor effects.
PMCID: PMC4170648  PMID: 24977961
cancer; deubiquitinase; proteasome; auranofin

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