The aurora kinases in cell cycle and leukemia

Oncogene. 2015 Jan 29;34(5):537-45. doi: 10.1038/onc.2014.14. Epub 2014 Mar 17.


The Aurora kinases, which include Aurora A (AURKA), Aurora B (AURKB) and Aurora C (AURKC), are serine/threonine kinases required for the control of mitosis (AURKA and AURKB) and meiosis (AURKC). Since their discovery nearly 20 years ago, Aurora kinases have been studied extensively in cell and cancer biology. Several early studies found that Aurora kinases are amplified and overexpressed at the transcript and protein level in various malignancies, including several types of leukemia. These discoveries and others provided a rationale for the development of small-molecule inhibitors of Aurora kinases as leukemia therapies. The first generation of Aurora kinase inhibitors did not fare well in clinical trials, owing to poor efficacy and high toxicity. However, the creation of second-generation, highly selective Aurora kinase inhibitors has increased the enthusiasm for targeting these proteins in leukemia. This review will describe the functions of each Aurora kinase, summarize their involvement in leukemia and discuss inhibitor development and efficacy in leukemia clinical trials.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aurora Kinase A / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aurora Kinase A / genetics*
  • Aurora Kinase B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aurora Kinase B / genetics*
  • Aurora Kinase C / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aurora Kinase C / genetics*
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / drug therapy
  • Leukemia / genetics*
  • Leukemia / pathology
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Mitosis / genetics
  • Small Molecule Libraries / therapeutic use


  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • AURKA protein, human
  • AURKB protein, human
  • AURKC protein, human
  • Aurora Kinase A
  • Aurora Kinase B
  • Aurora Kinase C