We have recently demonstrated that Aurora-A kinase is a potential oncogene to develop mammary gland tumors in mice, when expressed under MMTV promoter. These tumors contain phosphorylated forms of Akt and mTOR, suggesting that Akt-mTOR pathway is involved in transformed phenotype induced by Aurora-A. In the present studies, we discovered that stable cell lines expressing Aurora-A contain phosphorylation of Akt Ser473 after prolonged passages of cell culture, not in cells of the early period of cell culture. Levels of PTEN tumor suppressor are significantly reduced in these late passage cells at least in part due to increased poly ubiquitination of the protein. Akt-activated Aurora-A cells formed larger colonies in soft agar and are resistant to UV-induced apoptosis. Aurora-A inhibitor, VX-680, can cause cell death of Aurora-A cells in which Akt is not activated. siRNA-mediated depletion of mTOR in those cells resulted in decreased phosphorylation of Akt Ser473, suggesting that TORC2 complex phosphorylates Akt in Aurora-A cells. Treatment of late-passage Aurora-A cells with mTOR inhibitor reduced colony formation in soft agar. These results strongly suggest that commitment of cell transformation by Aurora-A is determined by at least co-activation of Akt/mTOR pathway.
Keywords: Akt-mTOR pathway; Aurora-A kinase; oncogene.