Inhibition of Aurora Kinase B activity disrupts development and differentiation of salivary glands

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Little is known about the key molecules that regulate cell division during organogenesis. Here we determine the role of the cell cycle promoter aurora kinase B (AURKB) during development, using embryonic salivary glands (E-SGs) as a model. AURKB is a serine/threonine kinase that regulates key events in mitosis, which makes it an attractive target for tailored anticancer therapy. Many reports have elaborated on the role of AURKB in neoplasia and cancer, however, no previous study has shown its role during organ development. Our previous experiments have highlighted the essential requirement for AURKB during adult exocrine regeneration. To investigate if AURKB is similarly required for progression during embryonic development, we pharmacologically inhibited AURKB in developing submandibular glands (SMGs) at embryonic day (E)13.5 and E16.5, using the highly potent and selective drug Barasertib. Inhibition of AURKB interfered with expansion of the embryonic buds. Interestingly, this effect on SMG development was also seen when the mature explants (E16.5) were incubated for 24 hrs with another cell cycle inhibitor Aphidicolin. Barasertib prompted apoptosis, DNA damage and senescence, the markers of which (cleaved caspase 3, γH2AX, SA-βgal and p21, respectively), were predominantly seen in the developing buds. In addition to a reduction in cell cycling and proliferation of the epithelial cells in response to AURKB inhibition, Barasertib treatment led to an excessive generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that resulted in downregulation of the acinar differentiation marker Mist1. Importantly, inhibition of ROS was able to rescue this loss of identity, with Mist1 expression maintained despite loss of AURKB. Together, these data identify AURKB as a key molecule in supporting embryonic development and differentiation, while inhibiting senescence-inducing signals during organogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Death Discovery
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Dec 2020

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