J Cancer 2020; 11(8):2241-2251. doi:10.7150/jca.31989 This issue

Research Paper

Therapeutic Rationale to Target Highly Expressed Aurora kinase A Conferring Poor Prognosis in Cholangiocarcinoma

Xiwei Ding1*, Tianlu Huang1*, Chunyan Peng1*, Keun Soo Ahn2, Jesper B Andersen3, Monika Lewinska3, Yu Cao1, Guifang Xu1, Gang Chen4, Bo Kong1,5, Helmut Friess5, Shanshan Shen1, Lewis R Roberts6, Lei Wang1✉, Xiaoping Zou1✉

1. Department of Gastroenterology, Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital, The Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
2. Division of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, Keimyung University Dong San Medical Center, Daegu, The republic of Korea
3. Biotech Research and Innovation Centre, Department of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China
5. Department of Surgery, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany
6. Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Rochester, MN, US
*These authors contributed equally to this work

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). See http://ivyspring.com/terms for full terms and conditions.
Ding X, Huang T, Peng C, Ahn KS, Andersen JB, Lewinska M, Cao Y, Xu G, Chen G, Kong B, Friess H, Shen S, Roberts LR, Wang L, Zou X. Therapeutic Rationale to Target Highly Expressed Aurora kinase A Conferring Poor Prognosis in Cholangiocarcinoma. J Cancer 2020; 11(8):2241-2251. doi:10.7150/jca.31989. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v11p2241.htm

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Background: Cholangiocarcinoma is a highly lethal neoplasm for which the currently available chemotherapeutic agents are suboptimal. Numerous studies show that alterations in expression of genes related to mitotic spindle and mitotic checkpoint are involved in chromosomal instability and tumor progression in various malignancies. This study aimed to evaluate these genes in cholangiocarcinoma patients.

Material and methods: Different public datasets were analyzed to examine the expression of 76 selected mitotic spindle checkpoint genes including Aurora Kinase A (AURKA) in cholangiocarcinoma. Afterwards, cell number counting, CCK-8 assay, and Caspase 3/7 assay were used to explore the antitumor effect of AURKA inhibitor Alisertib in vitro. In addition, xenograft model was used to evaluate the antitumor effect of Alisertib in vivo. Furthermore, siRNA mediated silencing of AURKA was used to verify the function of AURKA in cholangiocarcinoma.

Results: Components of the mitotic spindle checkpoint, including AURKA, were broadly dysregulated in human cholangiocarcinoma. High AURKA mRNA expression was associated with poor survival in cholangiocarcinoma patients within different datasets. AURKA specific inhibitor Alisertib, inhibited cell growth, induced cell cycle arrest in G2/M phase, and promoted apoptosis in cholangiocarcinoma cell lines. Additionally, Alisertib also inhibited tumor growth in a cholangiocarcinoma xenograft mouse model. Furthermore, AURKA knockdown by siRNA recapitulated the antitumor effect of Alisertib. AURKA expression was also highly correlated with its interaction proteins Polo-like kinase 1(PLK1) and Targeting protein for xenopus kinesin-like protein2 (TPX2) in different cholangiocarcinoma datasets.

Conclusions: Highly expressed AURKA confers poor outcomes in cholangiocarcinoma and may represent a rational therapeutic target.

Keywords: Aurora kinase A, Alisertib, Cholangiocarcinoma, mitotic spindle checkpoint, poor prognosis, molecular marker