Targeting aurora2 kinase in oncogenesis: A structural bioinformatics approach to target validation and rational drug design

Hariprasad Vankayalapati, David J. Bearss, José W. Saldanha, Rubén M. Mũnoz, Sangeeta Rojanala, Daniel D. Von Hoff, Daruka Mahadevan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The aurora kinases are a novel oncogenic family of mitotic serine/threonine kinases (S/T kinases) that are overexpressed in a number of solid tumors, including pancreas and colorectal cancer. A PSI-BLAST search [National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)] with the sequence of the S/T kinase domain of human aurora1 kinase [also known as AUR1, ARK2, AIk2, AIM-1, and STK12] and human aurora2 kinase (also known as AUR2, ARK1, AIK, BTAK, and STK15) showed a high sequence similarity to the three-dimensional structures of bovine cAMP-dependent kinase [Brookhaven Protein Data Bank code 1CDK], murine cAMP-dependent kinase (1APM), and Caenorhabditis elegans twitchin kinase (1KOA). When the aurora1 or aurora2 sequence was input into the tertiary structure prediction programs THREADER and 3D-PSSM (three-dimensional position-sensitive scoring matrix), the top structural matches were 1CDK, 1APM, and 1KOA, confirming that these domains are structurally conserved. The structural models of aurora1 and aurora2 were built using 1CDK as the template structure. Molecular dynamics and docking simulations, targeting the ATP binding site of aurora2 with adenylyl imidodiphosphate (AMP-PNP), staurosporine, and six small molecular S/T kinase inhibitors, identified active-site residues that interact with these inhibitors differentially. The docked structures of the aurora2-AMP-PNP and aurora2-staurosporine complexes indicated that the adenine ring of AMP-PNP and the indolocarbazole moiety of staurosporine have similar positions and orientations and provided the basis for the docking of the other S/T kinase inhibitors. Inhibitors with isoquinoline and quinazoline moieties were recognized by aurora2 in which H-89 and 6,7-dimethoxyquinazoline compounds exhibited high binding energies compared with that of staurosporine. The calculated binding energies for the docked small-molecule inhibitors were qualitatively consistent with the IC50 values generated using an in vitro kinase assay. The aurora2 structural model provides a rational basis for site-directed mutagenesis of the active site; design of novel H-89, staurosporine, and quinazoline analogues; and the screening of the available chemical database for the identification of other novel, small-molecular entities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-294
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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