Purpose: The Aurora family of serine/threonine kinases (Aurora-A, Aurora-B, and Aurora-C) plays a key role in cells orderly progression through mitosis. Elevated expression levels of Aurora kinases have been detected in a high percentage of melanoma, colon, breast, ovarian, gastric, and pancreatic tumors. We characterized the biological and pharmacological properties of SNS-314, an ATP-competitive, selective, and potent inhibitor of Aurora kinases.
Methods: We studied the biochemical potency and selectivity of SNS-314 to inhibit Aurora kinases A, B, and C. The inhibition of cellular proliferation induced by SNS-314 was evaluated in a broad range of tumor cell lines and correlated to inhibition of histone H3 phosphorylation, inhibition of cell-cycle progression, increase in nuclear content and cell size, loss of viability, and induction of apoptosis. The dose and administration schedule of SNS-314 was optimized for in vivo efficacy in mouse xenograft models of human cancer.
Results: In the HCT116 human colon cancer xenograft model, administration of 50 and 100 mg/kg SNS-314 led to dose-dependent inhibition of histone H3 phosphorylation for at least 10 h, indicating effective Aurora-B inhibition in vivo. HCT116 tumors from animals treated with SNS-314 showed potent and sustained responses including reduction of phosphorylated histone H3 levels, increased caspase-3 and appearance of increased nuclear size. The compound showed significant tumor growth inhibition in a dose-dependent manner under a variety of dosing schedules including weekly, bi-weekly, and 5 days on/9 days off.
Conclusions: SNS-314 is a potent small-molecule inhibitor of Aurora kinases developed as a novel anti-cancer therapeutic agent for the treatment of diverse human malignancies.