Aurora kinases, a family of serine/threonine kinases, consisting of Aurora A (AURKA), Aurora B (AURKB) and Aurora C (AURKC), are essential kinases for cell division via regulating mitosis especially the process of chromosomal segregation. Besides regulating mitosis, Aurora kinases have been implicated in regulating meiosis. The deletion of Aurora kinases could lead to failure of cell division and impair the embryonic development. Overexpression or gene amplification of Aurora kinases has been clarified in a number of cancers. And a growing number of studies have demonstrated that inhibition of Aurora kinases could potentiate the effect of chemotherapies. For the past decades, a series of Aurora kinases inhibitors (AKIs) developed effectively repress the progression and growth of many cancers both in vivo and in vitro, suggesting that Aurora kinases could be a novel therapeutic target. In this review, we'll first briefly present the structure, localization and physiological functions of Aurora kinases in mitosis, then describe the oncogenic role of Aurora kinases in tumorigenesis, we shall finally discuss the outcomes of AKIs combination with conventional therapy.
Keywords: Aurora kinases; Aurora kinases inhibitors; cancer therapy target; combination therapy; mitosis.