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Oral Oncol. 2008 Jul;44(7):639-45. Epub 2007 Nov 8.

Aurora kinase small molecule inhibitor destroys mitotic spindle, suppresses cell growth, and induces apoptosis in oral squamous cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, Second Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.


Mitotic Aurora kinases are required for accurate chromosome segregation during cell division. Ectopic expression of Aurora-A (Aur-A) kinase results in centrosome amplification, aberrant spindles, and consequent aneuploidy. In the present study, we showed that Aurora kinase inhibitory small molecule VX-680 inhibited histone H3 phosphorylation at Ser10, a known in vivo substrate residue of Aurora kinase, in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) KB cells. In addition, monopolar spindle structures, typical abnormalities induced by inhibition of Aur-A, were generated in VX-680-treated cells. Inhibition of Aurora kinase led to reduced KB cell growth, as assessed by MTT assay. Western blot analysis revealed that VX-680 caused cleavage of two critical apoptotic associated proteins, PARP and caspase-3. In contrast, expression of cell survival factor Bcl-2 was reduced by VX-680 treatment in a dose-dependent manner. Subsequently, nuclear characteristic of DNA fragmentation, indicative of apoptotic cell death, was clearly observed in these OSCC cells with Aurora kinase inhibitory VX-680. Taken together, we showed that Aurora kinase inhibitory VX-680 led to apoptotic cell death in OSCC cells, suggesting a novel therapeutic target in oral cancer.

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