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Haematologica. 2012 Aug;97(8):1246-54. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2011.054668. Epub 2012 Feb 13.

The Aurora A and B kinases are up-regulated in bone marrow-derived chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells and represent potential therapeutic targets.

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Hematology Division and Center for Cell-Based Therapy, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.



The malignant B cells in chronic lymphocytic leukemia receive signals from the bone marrow and lymph node microenvironments which regulate their survival and proliferation. Characterization of these signals and the pathways that propagate them to the interior of the cell is important for the identification of novel potential targets for therapeutic intervention.


We compared the gene expression profiles of chronic lymphocytic leukemia B cells purified from bone marrow and peripheral blood to identify genes that are induced by the bone marrow microenvironment. Two of the differentially expressed genes were further studied in cell culture experiments and in an animal model to determine whether they could represent appropriate therapeutic targets in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.


Functional classification analysis revealed that the majority of differentially expressed genes belong to gene ontology categories related to cell cycle and mitosis. Significantly up-regulated genes in bone marrow-derived tumor cells included important cell cycle regulators, such as Aurora A and B, survivin and CDK6. Down-regulation of Aurora A and B by RNA interference inhibited proliferation of chronic lymphocytic leukemia-derived cell lines and induced low levels of apoptosis. A similar effect was observed with the Aurora kinase inhibitor VX-680 in primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells that were induced to proliferate by CpG-oligonucleotides and interleukin-2. Moreover, VX-680 significantly blocked leukemia growth in a mouse model of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.


Aurora A and B are up-regulated in proliferating chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells and represent potential therapeutic targets in this disease.

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