Targeting high Aurora kinases expression as an innovative therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma

The Aurora kinases A and B control tumorigenesis by inhibiting apoptosis and promoting proliferation and metastasis, however, it remains unknown whether Aurora A and B overexpressed concomitantly and its clinical significance in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we obsearved Aurora A and B tended to overexpress parallelly on protein level (r = 0.8679, P < 0.0001) and their co-overexpression (Aurora AHBH), associated with the worst prognosis, was an independent predictor for the survival. Importantly, with the lower IC50 and stronger anti-tumor effect than selective inhibitors, SNS-314, the pan-inhibitor of Aurora kinases, which induced YAP (Yes-associated protein) reduction and resulted in P21 accumulation, significantly promoted the polyploidy (> 4N) formation and apoptosis in HCC. High YAP expression (YAPH) was associated with Aurora AHBH, and appeared to be an independent predictor for survival, but P21 not. Moreover, silencing YAP also induced P21 accumulation, and knockdown P21, which enhanced YAP accumulation and weakened the SNS-314-induced YAP reduction, impaired SNS-314-induced apoptosis. Therefore, P21 enhanced the apoptotic effect of SNS-314 in HCC. Taken together, our findings indicated Aurora kinases/YAP/P21 was an oncogenic signaling axis in HCC, and revealed targeting Aurora AHBH induced apoptosis by YAP suppression. Our results also provided a solid evidence for SNS-314 as a potential targeted therapy, and a proof-of-concept evidence for a possible combined therapy of SNS-314 plus Hippo pathway inhibitors on HCC.

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S1154 SNS-314 SNS-314 is a potent and selective inhibitor of Aurora A, Aurora B and Aurora C with IC50 of 9 nM, 31 nM, and 3 nM, respectively. It is less potent to Trk A/B, Flt4, Fms, Axl, c-Raf and DDR2. Phase 1. (8) (3)

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