Shared and separate functions of polo-like kinases and aurora kinases in cancer

Nat Rev Cancer. 2010 Dec;10(12):825-41. doi: 10.1038/nrc2964. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


Large numbers of inhibitors for polo-like kinases and aurora kinases are currently being evaluated as anticancer drugs. Interest in these drugs is fuelled by the idea that these kinases have unique functions in mitosis. Within the polo-like kinase family, the emphasis for targeted therapies has been on polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), and in the aurora kinase family drugs have been developed to specifically target aurora kinase A (AURKA; also known as STK6) and/or aurora kinase B (AURKB; also known as STK12). Information on the selectivity of these compounds in vivo is limited, but it is likely that off-target effects within the same kinase families will affect efficacy and toxicity profiles. In addition, it is becoming clear that interplay between polo-like kinases and aurora kinases is much more extensive than initially anticipated, and that both kinase families are important factors in the response to classical chemotherapeutics that damage the genome or the mitotic spindle. In this Review we discuss the implications of these novel insights on the clinical applicability of polo-like kinase and aurora kinase inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aurora Kinase A
  • Aurora Kinase B
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / analysis
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / physiology*
  • Chromatids / physiology
  • Cytokinesis
  • Humans
  • Kinetochores / physiology
  • Mitosis
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / analysis
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • SGO1 protein, human
  • AURKA protein, human
  • AURKB protein, human
  • Aurora Kinase A
  • Aurora Kinase B
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • polo-like kinase 1