Background: Various mitotic events are controlled by Cdc2-cyclin B and other mitotic kinases. Aurora/Ipl1-related mitotic kinases were proved to play key roles in mitotic progression in diverse lower organisms. Aurora-A is a mammalian counterpart of aurora/Ipl1-related kinases and is thought to be a potential oncogene. However, the regulation of aurora-A activation and the commitment of aurora-A in the progression of G2-M phase are largely unknown in mammalian cells.
Results: We demonstrated that aurora-A is activated depending on the activation of Cdc2-cyclin B in mammalian cells. Since Cdc2-cyclin B does not directly phosphorylate aurora-A, indirect pathways such as the inhibition of PP1 by Cdc2-cyclin B may act for the activation of aurora-A kinase. Microinjection of anti-aurora-A antibodies into HeLa cells at late G2 phase caused a significant delay in mitotic entry. Furthermore, aurora-A activation at G2-M transition was inhibited by DNA damage, and the over-expression of aurora-A induced the abrogation of the DNA damage-induced G2 checkpoint.
Conclusions: Aurora-A is activated downstream of Cdc2-cyclin B and plays crucial roles in proper mitotic entry and G2 checkpoint control. Dysregulation of aurora-A induces abnormal G2-M transition in mammalian cells and may lead to chromosome instability, which results in the development and progression of malignant tumours.