Aurora-A is a protein involved in the cell division process that is highly expressed or synthesised in a large number of human cancers, especially in those associated with a bad prognosis. Several pharmaceutical companies have recently developed these protein inhibitors, although the therapeutic and physiological effects that blocking Aurora-A might have on adult tissues are still unknown.
A study led by Ignacio Pérez de Castro, a researcher in the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre's (CNIO) Cell Division and Cancer Group, and its Group Leader, Marcos Malumbres, describes the cellular consequences of genetically deleting Aurora-A, an important target for the development of new anti-cancer agents, in mouse models. The work, which was carried out in collaboration with researchers Terry Van Dyke and Dale Cowley, from North Carolina University in the US, is published today in Cancer Research, the most cited cancer journal.
AURORA-A, AGEING AND CANCER
Aurora-A is a protein involved in the regulation of the cell cycle, a process by which cells reproduce and form tissues. Although these elementary functions had been widely studied in several model organisms and mouse embryos, their role in tissues and adult organisms remained unknown.
Using genetically engineered Aurora-A deficient mice, the authors of the study have discovered that the absence of this protein causes an increase in the number of cells with a high DNA content; this is a consequence of an aberrant distribution of the genetic material upon division.
"This phenomenon causes defects in cell proliferation, as well as an increase in the number of dead and senescent cells, which triggers premature ageing in the animals studied", says Ignacio Pérez de Castro. The researcher adds that: "In those mice, we also see an increase in DNA damage and, most importantly, a reduction in the progression of skin and breast tumours".
|Contact: Nuria Noriega|
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO)