Targeting Aurora A kinase activity with the investigational agent alisertib increases the efficacy of cytarabine through a FOXO-dependent mechanism

Int J Cancer. 2012 Dec 1;131(11):2693-703. doi: 10.1002/ijc.27579. Epub 2012 Jun 28.

Abstract

Novel therapies are urgently needed to improve clinical outcomes for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The investigational drug alisertib (MLN8237) is a novel Aurora A kinase inhibitor being studied in multiple Phase I and II studies. We investigated the preclinical efficacy and pharmacodynamics of alisertib in AML cell lines, primary AML cells and mouse models of AML. Here, we report that alisertib disrupted cell viability, diminished clonogenic survival, induced expression of the FOXO3a targets p27 and BIM and triggered apoptosis. A link between Aurora A expression and sensitivity to ara-C was established, suggesting that Aurora A inhibition may be a promising strategy to increase the efficacy of ara-C. Accordingly, alisertib significantly potentiated the antileukemic activity of ara-C in both AML cell lines and primary blasts. Targeted FOXO3a knockdown significantly blunted the pro-apoptotic effects of the alisertib/ara-C combination, indicating that it is an important regulator of sensitivity to these agents. In vivo studies demonstrated that alisertib significantly augmented the efficacy of ara-C without affecting its pharmacokinetic profile and led to the induction of p27 and BIM. Our collective data indicate that targeting Aurora A with alisertib represents a novel approach to increase the efficacy of ara-C that warrants further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Aurora Kinase A
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Azepines / pharmacology*
  • Bcl-2-Like Protein 11
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27 / metabolism
  • Cytarabine / pharmacology*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / enzymology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / metabolism
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays

Substances

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Azepines
  • BCL2L11 protein, human
  • Bcl-2-Like Protein 11
  • Bcl2l11 protein, mouse
  • FOXO3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • FoxO3 protein, mouse
  • MLN 8237
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Pyrimidines
  • Cytarabine
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Aurka protein, mouse
  • Aurora Kinase A
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases