Aurora-A Kinase as a Promising Therapeutic Target in Cancer.
ABSTRACT: Mammalian Aurora family of serine/threonine kinases are master regulators of mitotic progression and are frequently overexpressed in human cancers. Among the three members of the Aurora kinase family (Aurora-A, -B, and -C), Aurora-A and Aurora-B are expressed at detectable levels in somatic cells undergoing mitotic cell division. Aberrant Aurora-A kinase activity has been implicated in oncogenic transformation through the development of chromosomal instability and tumor cell heterogeneity. Recent studies also reveal a novel non-mitotic role of Aurora-A activity in promoting tumor progression through activation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition reprograming resulting in the genesis of tumor-initiating cells. Therefore, Aurora-A kinase represents an attractive target for cancer therapeutics, and the development of small molecule inhibitors of Aurora-A oncogenic activity may improve the clinical outcomes of cancer patients. In the present review, we will discuss mitotic and non-mitotic functions of Aurora-A activity in oncogenic transformation and tumor progression. We will also review the current clinical studies, evaluating small molecule inhibitors of Aurora-A activity and their efficacy in the management of cancer patients.
Project description:Aurora kinases play critical roles in regulating spindle assembly, chromosome segregation, and cytokinesis to ensure faithful segregation of chromosomes during mitotic cell division cycle. Molecular and cell biological studies have revealed that Aurora kinases, at physiological levels, orchestrate complex sequential cellular processes at distinct subcellular locations through functional interactions with its various substrates. Aberrant expression of Aurora kinases, on the other hand, cause defects in mitotic spindle assembly, checkpoint response activation, and chromosome segregation leading to chromosomal instability. Elevated expression of Aurora kinases correlating with chromosomal instability is frequently detected in human cancers. Recent genomic profiling of about 3000 human cancer tissue specimens to identify various oncogenic signatures in The Cancer Genome Atlas project has reported that recurrent amplification and overexpression of Aurora kinase-A characterize distinct subsets of human tumors across multiple cancer types. Besides the well-characterized canonical pathway interactions of Aurora kinases in regulating assembly of the mitotic apparatus and chromosome segregation, growing evidence also supports the notion that deregulated expression of Aurora kinases in non-canonical pathways drive transformation and genomic instability by antagonizing tumor suppressor and exacerbating oncogenic signaling through direct interactions with critical proteins. Aberrant expression of the Aurora kinases-p53 protein family signaling axes appears to be critical in the abrogation of p53 protein family mediated tumor suppressor pathways frequently deregulated during oncogenic transformation process. Recent findings reveal the existence of feedback regulatory loops in mRNA expression and protein stability of these protein families and their consequences on downstream effectors involved in diverse physiological functions, such as mitotic progression, checkpoint response pathways, as well as self-renewal and pluripotency in embryonic stem cells. While these investigations have focused on the functional consequences of Aurora kinase protein family interactions with wild-type p53 family proteins, those involving Aurora kinases and mutant p53 remain to be elucidated. This article presents a comprehensive review of studies on Aurora kinases-p53 protein family interactions along with a prospective view on the possible functional consequences of Aurora kinase-mutant p53 signaling pathways in tumor cells. Additionally, we also discuss therapeutic implications of these findings in Aurora kinases overexpressing subsets of human tumors.
Project description:BRCA1 (breast cancer type 1 susceptibility protein) is a multifunctional tumor suppressor involved in DNA damage response, DNA repair, chromatin regulation, and mitotic chromosome segregation. Although the nuclear functions of BRCA1 have been investigated in detail, its role during mitosis is little understood. It is clear, however, that loss of BRCA1 in human cancer cells leads to chromosomal instability (CIN), which is defined as a perpetual gain or loss of whole chromosomes during mitosis. Moreover, our recent work has revealed that the mitotic function of BRCA1 depends on its phosphorylation by the tumor-suppressor kinase Chk2 (checkpoint kinase 2) and that this regulation is required to ensure normal microtubule plus end assembly rates within mitotic spindles. Intriguingly, loss of the positive regulation of BRCA1 leads to increased oncogenic Aurora-A activity, which acts as a mediator for abnormal mitotic microtubule assembly resulting in chromosome missegregation and CIN. However, how the CHK2-BRCA1 tumor suppressor axis restrains oncogenic Aurora-A during mitosis to ensure karyotype stability remained an open question. Here we uncover a dual molecular mechanism by which the CHK2-BRCA1 axis restrains oncogenic Aurora-A activity during mitosis and identify BRCA1 itself as a target for Aurora-A relevant for CIN. In fact, Chk2-mediated phosphorylation of BRCA1 is required to recruit the PP6C-SAPS3 phosphatase, which acts as a T-loop phosphatase inhibiting Aurora-A bound to BRCA1. Consequently, loss of CHK2 or PP6C-SAPS3 promotes Aurora-A activity associated with BRCA1 in mitosis. Aurora-A, in turn, then phosphorylates BRCA1 itself, thereby inhibiting the mitotic function of BRCA1 and promoting mitotic microtubule assembly, chromosome missegregation, and CIN.
Project description:In this study, we demonstrate that constitutive activation of Raf-1 oncogenic signaling induces stabilization and accumulation of Aurora-A mitotic kinase that ultimately drives the transition from an epithelial to a highly invasive mesenchymal phenotype in estrogen receptor ?-positive (ER?(+)) breast cancer cells. The transition from an epithelial- to a mesenchymal-like phenotype was characterized by reduced expression of ER?, HER-2/Neu overexpression and loss of CD24 surface receptor (CD24(-/low)). Importantly, expression of key epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers and upregulation of the stemness gene SOX2 was linked to acquisition of stem cell-like properties such as the ability to form mammospheres in vitro and tumor self-renewal in vivo. Moreover, aberrant Aurora-A kinase activity induced phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of SMAD5, indicating a novel interplay between Aurora-A and SMAD5 signaling pathways in the development of EMT, stemness and ultimately tumor progression. Importantly, pharmacological and molecular inhibition of Aurora-A kinase activity restored a CD24(+) epithelial phenotype that was coupled to ER? expression, downregulation of HER-2/Neu, inhibition of EMT and impaired self-renewal ability, resulting in the suppression of distant metastases. Taken together, our findings show for the first time the causal role of Aurora-A kinase in the activation of EMT pathway responsible for the development of distant metastases in ER?(+) breast cancer cells. Moreover, this study has important translational implications because it highlights the mitotic kinase Aurora-A as a novel promising therapeutic target to selectively eliminate highly invasive cancer cells and improve the disease-free and overall survival of ER?(+) breast cancer patients resistant to conventional endocrine therapy.
Project description:Although the majority of breast cancers initially respond to the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapeutic agents, most breast cancer patients experience tumor relapse and ultimately die because of drug resistance. Breast cancer cells undergoing epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) acquire a CD44+/CD24-/ALDH1+ cancer stem cell-like phenotype characterized by an increased capacity for tumor self-renewal, intrinsic drug resistance and high proclivity to develop distant metastases. We uncovered in human breast tumor xenografts a novel non-mitotic role of Aurora-A kinase in promoting breast cancer metastases through activation of EMT and expansion of breast tumor initiating cells (BTICs). In this study we characterized the role of the Aurora-A/SMAD5 oncogenic axis in the induction of chemoresistance. Breast cancer cells overexpressing Aurora-A showed resistance to conventional chemotherapeutic agents, while treatment with alisertib, a selective Aurora-A kinase inhibitor, restored chemosensitivity. Significantly, SMAD5 expression was required to induce chemoresistance and maintain a breast cancer stem cell-like phenotype, indicating that the Aurora-A/SMAD5 oncogenic axis promotes chemoresistance through activation of stemness signaling. Taken together, these findings identified a novel mechanism of drug resistance through aberrant activation of the non-canonical Aurora-A/SMAD5 oncogenic axis in breast cancer.
Project description:Development of endocrine resistance during tumor progression represents a major challenge in the management of estrogen receptor alpha (ER?) positive breast tumors and is an area under intense investigation. Although the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood, many studies point towards the 'cross-talk' between ER? and MAPK signaling pathways as a key oncogenic axis responsible for the development of estrogen-independent growth of breast cancer cells that are initially ER?+ and hormone sensitive. In this study we employed a metastatic breast cancer xenograft model harboring constitutive activation of Raf-1 oncogenic signaling to investigate the mechanistic linkage between aberrant MAPK activity and development of endocrine resistance through abrogation of the ER? signaling axis. We demonstrate for the first time the causal role of the Aurora-A mitotic kinase in the development of endocrine resistance through activation of SMAD5 nuclear signaling and down-regulation of ER? expression in initially ER?+ breast cancer cells. This contribution is highly significant for the treatment of endocrine refractory breast carcinomas, because it may lead to the development of novel molecular therapies targeting the Aurora-A/SMAD5 oncogenic axis. We postulate such therapy to result in the selective eradication of endocrine resistant ER?low/- cancer cells from the bulk tumor with consequent benefits for breast cancer patients.
Project description:Aurora B is a mitotic checkpoint kinase that plays a pivotal role in the cell cycle, ensuring correct chromosome segregation and normal progression through mitosis. Aurora B is overexpressed in many types of human cancers, which has made it an attractive target for cancer therapies. Tumor suppressor p53 is a genome guardian and important negative regulator of the cell cycle. Whether Aurora B and p53 are coordinately regulated during the cell cycle is not known. We report that Aurora B directly interacts with p53 at different subcellular localizations and during different phases of the cell cycle (for instance, at the nucleus in interphase and the centromeres in prometaphase of mitosis). We show that Aurora B phosphorylates p53 at S183, T211, and S215 to accelerate the degradation of p53 through the polyubiquitination-proteasome pathway, thus functionally suppressing the expression of p53 target genes involved in cell cycle inhibition and apoptosis (e.g., p21 and PUMA). Pharmacologic inhibition of Aurora B in cancer cells with WT p53 increased p53 protein level and expression of p53 target genes to inhibit tumor growth. Together, these results define a mechanism of p53 inactivation during the cell cycle and imply that oncogenic hyperactivation or overexpression of Aurora B may compromise the tumor suppressor function of p53. We have elucidated the antineoplastic mechanism for Aurora B kinase inhibitors in cancer cells with WT p53.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The mitotic Aurora-A kinase exerts crucial functions in maintaining mitotic fidelity. As a bona fide oncoprotein, Aurora-A aberrant overexpression leads to oncogenic transformation. Yet, the mechanisms by which Aurora-A enhances cancer cell survival remain to be elucidated.<h4>Results</h4>Here, we found that Aurora-A overexpression was closely correlated with clinic stage and lymph node metastasis in tongue carcinoma. Aurora-A inhibitory VX-680 suppressed proliferation, induced apoptosis and markedly reduced migration in cancer cells. We further showed that insulin-like growth factor-1, a PI3K physiological activator, reversed VX-680-decreased cell survival and motility. Conversely, wortmannin, a PI3K inhibitor, combined with VX-680 showed a synergistic effect on inducing apoptosis and suppressing migration. In addition, Aurora-A inhibition suppressed Akt activation, and VX-680-induced apoptosis was attenuated by Myr-Akt overexpression, revealing a cross-talk between Aurora-A and PI3K pathway interacting at Akt activation. Significantly, we showed that suppression of Aurora-A decreased phosphorylated Akt and was associated with increased IkappaBalpha expression. By contrast, Aurora-A overexpression upregulated Akt activity and downregulated IkappaBalpha, these changes were accompanied by nuclear translocation of nuclear factor-kappaB and increased expression of its target gene Bcl-xL. Lastly, Aurora-A overexpression induced IkappaBalpha reduction was abrogated by suppression of Akt either chemically or genetically.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Taken together, our data established that Aurora-A, via activating Akt, stimulated nuclear factor-kappaB signaling pathway to promote cancer cell survival, and promised a novel combined chemotherapy targeting both Aurora-A and PI3K in cancer treatment.
Project description:Cell cycle progression requires a series of highly coordinated events that ultimately lead to faithful segregation of chromosomes. Aurora B is an essential mitotic kinase, which is involved in regulation of microtubule-kinetochore attachments and cytokinesis. Inhibition of Aurora B results in stabilization of p53 and induction of p53-target genes such as p21 to inhibit proliferation. We have previously demonstrated that induction of p21 by p53 after inhibition of Aurora B is dependent on the p38 MAPK, which promotes transcriptional elongation of p21 by RNA Pol II. In this study, we show that a subset of p53-target genes are induced in a p38-dependent manner upon inhibition of Aurora B. We also demonstrate that inhibition of Aurora B results in down-regulation of E2F-mediated transcription and that the cell cycle arrest after Aurora B inhibition depends on p53 and pRB tumor suppressor pathways. In addition, we report that activation of p21 after inhibition of Aurora B is correlated with increased chromosome missegregation and aneuploidy but not with binucleation or tetraploidy. We provide evidence that p21 is activated in aneuploid cells by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and p38 MAPK. Finally, we demonstrate that certain drugs that act on aneuploid cells synergize with inhibitors of Aurora B to inhibit colony formation and oncogenic transformation. These findings provide an important link between aneuploidy and the stress pathways activated by Aurora B inhibition and also support the use of Aurora B inhibitors in combination therapy for treatment of cancer.
Project description:Protein acetylation has been implicated in playing an important role during mitotic progression. Aurora B kinase is known to play a critical role in mitosis. However, whether Aurora B is regulated by acetylation is not known. Using IP with an anti-acetyl lysine antibody, we identified Aurora B as an acetylated protein in PC3 prostate cancer cells. Knockdown of HDAC3 or inhibiting HDAC3 deacetylase activity led to a significant increase (P<0.01 and P<0.05, respectively) in Aurora B acetylation as compared to siLuc or vehicle-treated controls. Increased Aurora B acetylation is correlated with a 30% reduction in Aurora B kinase activity in vitro and resulted in significant defects in Aurora B-dependent mitotic processes, including kinetochore-microtubule attachment and chromosome congression. Furthermore, Aurora B transiently interacts with HDAC3 at the kinetochore-microtubule interface of congressing chromosomes during prometaphase. This window of interaction corresponded with a transient but significant reduction (P=0.02) in Aurora B acetylation during early mitosis. Together, these results indicate that Aurora B is more active in its deacetylated state and further suggest a new mechanism by which dynamic acetylation/deacetylation acts as a rheostat to fine-tune Aurora B activity during mitotic progression.
Project description:Aneuploidy is a common feature of human solid tumors and is often associated with poor prognosis. There is growing evidence that oncogenic signaling pathways, which are universally dysregulated in cancer, contribute to the promotion of aneuploidy. However, the mechanisms connecting signaling pathways to the execution of mitosis and cytokinesis are not well understood. Here, we show that hyperactivation of the ERK1/2 MAP kinase pathway in epithelial cells impairs cytokinesis, leading to polyploidization and aneuploidy. Mechanistically, deregulated ERK1/2 signaling specifically downregulates expression of the F-box protein Fbxw7?, a substrate-binding subunit of the SCF(Fbxw7) ubiquitin ligase, resulting in the accumulation of the mitotic kinase Aurora A. Reduction of Aurora A levels by RNA interference or pharmacological inhibition of MEK1/2 reverts the defect in cytokinesis and decreases the frequency of abnormal cell divisions induced by oncogenic H-Ras(V12). Reciprocally, overexpression of Aurora A or silencing of Fbxw7? phenocopies the effect of H-Ras(V12) on cell division. In vivo, conditional activation of MEK2 in the mouse intestine lowers Fbxw7? expression, resulting in the accumulation of cells with enlarged nuclei. We propose that the ERK1/2/ Fbxw7?/Aurora A axis identified in this study contributes to genomic instability and tumor progression.