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J Cell Sci. 2007 Sep 1;120(Pt 17):2987-96.

Aurora-A: the maker and breaker of spindle poles.

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Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 0RE, UK.


The gene encoding the Aurora-A protein kinase is located in the 20q13 breast cancer amplicon and is also overexpressed in colorectal, pancreatic and gastric tumours. Although Aurora-A may not be a bona fide oncoprotein in humans, it is a promising drug target in cancer therapy. Thus, it is surprising that so little is known of its role in normal cells. The primary function of Aurora-A is to promote bipolar spindle assembly, but the molecular details of this process remained obscure until recently. The discovery of several novel Aurora-A-binding proteins and substrates has implicated Aurora-A in centrosome maturation and separation, acentrosomal and centrosomal spindle assembly, kinetochore function, cytokinesis and in cell fate determination. Here we discuss recent advances in determining the early mitotic role of Aurora-A, with a strong emphasis on its function at the mitotic spindle poles.

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