Functional significance of Aurora kinases-p53 protein family interactions in cancer

Kaori Sasai, Warapen Treekitkarnmongkol, Kazuharu Kai, Hiroshi Katayama, Subrata Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number247
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - Nov 25 2016


  • Aurora kinases
  • Centrosome amplification
  • Chromosome instability
  • P53 tumor suppressor protein family
  • Pluripotency
  • Tumorigenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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