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Investigation of Aurora A and Aurora B kinases as potential targets in KRAS-induced lung cancer

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Edmilson Ozorio dos Santos
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Conjunto das Químicas (IQ e FCF) (CQ/DBDCQ)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Daniela Sanchez Bassères; Anamaria Aranha Camargo; Bryan Eric Strauss
Advisor: Daniela Sanchez Bassères

The most frequent genetic change found in lung tumors are activating point mutations in the KRAS gene, which have been causally linked to the oncogenic process. Unfortunately, different approaches to target RAS proteins for therapy have been unsuccessful. Therefore, in order to select better targets for lung cancer therapy, key cancer-relevant KRAS downstream pathways will need to be identified. The overall objective of this study was to identify novel therapeutic targets in KRAS-mediated lung cancer. This project was based on the following hypothesis: (1) KRAS activates mitotic kinases Aurora A and/or B; and (2) Aurora A and/or B are relevant therapeutic targets in KRAS-induced lung cancer. This hypothesis was formulated on the basis of published studies showing that Aurora A directly phosphorylates RAS effector pathway components, and Aurora A and B both cooperate with oncogenic RAS to promote malignant transformation. In order to test this hypothesis, we first determined whether oncogenic KRAS induces Aurora kinase expression. For that purpose, we used three different cell-based models: (1) an immortalized primary lung epithelial cell line and its isogenic KRAS-transformed counterpart, (2) H1703 lung cancer cell line engineered to express oncogenic KRAS inducibly, and (3) KRAS positive lung cancer cell lines H358 and A549 stably expressing inducible shRNAs targeting KRAS. In all cases, KRAS expression positively correlated with Aurora A and Aurora B expression. In order to validate Aurora A and/or B as therapeutically relevant KRAS targets in lung cancer, we used genetic and/or pharmacological approaches in the abovementioned cells to inactivate Aurora A or B. In KRAS positive H358 and A549 cell lines, inducible shRNA-mediated knockdown of Aurora A or B, as well as treatment with a dual Aurora A and B inhibitor, decreased growth, viability and tumorigenicity in vitro. More importantly, in the primary isogenic model and in the H1703 KRAS-inducible cell line, dual pharmacological inhibiton of Aurora A and B reduced growth, viability and tumorigenicity in an oncogenic KRAS-dependent manner. This suggests that Aurora kinase inhibition therapy can specifically target KRAS transformed cells. In conclusion, our results support our hypothesis that Aurora kinases are important KRAS targets in lung cancer and suggest Aurora kinase inhibition as a novel approach for KRAS-induced lung cancer therapy. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 11/15037-1 - Investigation of Aurora A kinase as a potential therapeutic target in K-Ras-induced lung cancer.
Grantee:Edmilson Ozorio dos Santos
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Master