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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 28;106(17):6939-44. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900833106. Epub 2009 Apr 8.

A single amino acid change converts Aurora-A into Aurora-B-like kinase in terms of partner specificity and cellular function.

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  • 1The Education Ministry Key Laboratory of Cell Proliferation and Differentiation and the State Key Laboratory of Bio-membrane and Membrane Bio-engineering, College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.


Aurora kinase-A and -B are key regulators of the cell cycle and tumorigenesis. It has remained a mystery why these 2 Aurora kinases, although highly similar in protein sequence and structure, are distinct in subcellular localization and function. Here, we report the striking finding that a single amino acid residue is responsible for these differences. We replaced the Gly-198 of Aurora-A with the equivalent residue Asn-142 of Aurora-B and found that in HeLa cells, Aurora-A(G198N) was recruited to the inner centromere in metaphase and the midzone in anaphase, reminiscent of the Aurora-B localization. Moreover, Aurora-A(G198N) compensated for the loss of Aurora-B in chromosome misalignment and cell premature exit from mitosis. Furthermore, Aurora-A(G198N) formed a complex with the Aurora-B partners, INCENP and Survivin, and its localization depended on this interaction. Aurora-A(G198N) phosphorylated the Aurora-B substrates INCENP and Survivin in vitro. Therefore, we propose that the presence of Gly or Asn at a single site assigns Aurora-A and -B to their respective partners and thus to their distinctive subcellular localizations and functions.

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