Maternally recruited Aurora C kinase is more stable than Aurora B to support mouse oocyte maturation and early development

Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 07/2012; 109(33):E2215-22. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1120517109
Source: PubMed


Aurora kinases are highly conserved, essential regulators of cell division. Two Aurora kinase isoforms, A and B (AURKA and AURKB), are expressed ubiquitously in mammals, whereas a third isoform, Aurora C (AURKC), is largely restricted to germ cells. Because AURKC is very similar to AURKB, based on sequence and functional analyses, why germ cells express AURKC is unclear. We report that Aurkc(-/-) females are subfertile, and that AURKB function declines as development progresses based on increasing severity of cytokinesis failure and arrested embryonic development. Furthermore, we find that neither Aurkb nor Aurkc is expressed after the one-cell stage, and that AURKC is more stable during maturation than AURKB using fluorescently tagged reporter proteins. In addition, Aurkc mRNA is recruited during maturation. Because maturation occurs in the absence of transcription, posttranscriptional regulation of Aurkc mRNA, coupled with the greater stability of AURKC protein, provides a means to ensure sufficient Aurora kinase activity, despite loss of AURKB, to support both meiotic and early embryonic cell divisions. These findings suggest a model for the presence of AURKC in oocytes: that AURKC compensates for loss of AURKB through differences in both message recruitment and protein stability.

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Available from: Karen Schindler
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    • "Evidence of these differences can be seen in the divergent phenotypes of knockout mice. Aurkb −/− die at the blastocyst embryonic stage while Aurkc −/− knockouts are viable (Kimmins et al., 2007; Schindler et al., 2012). Transgenic mice expressing a dominant negative AURKB driven by the male-specific β-4-galactosyltransferase promoter exhibit severe disruption in spermatogenesis with reduced sperm counts, reduced testis size and disorganized spermatogenic staging. "
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    ABSTRACT: The mammalian genome encodes three Aurora kinase protein family members: A, B, and C. While Aurora kinase A (AURKA) and B (AURKB) are found in cells throughout the body, significant protein levels of Aurora kinase C (AURKC) are limited to cells that undergo meiosis (sperm and oocyte). Despite its discovery nearly 20 years ago, we know little about the function of AURKC compared to that of the other 2 Aurora kinases. This lack of understanding can be attributed to the high sequence homology between AURKB and AURKC preventing the use of standard approaches to understand non-overlapping and meiosis I (MI)-specific functions of the two kinases. Recent evidence has revealed distinct functions of AURKC in meiosis and may aid in our understanding of why chromosome segregation during MI often goes awry in oocytes. Many cancers aberrantly express AURKC, but because we do not fully understand AURKC function in its normal cellular context, it is difficult to predict the biological significance of this expression on the disease. Here, we consolidate and update what is known about AURKC signaling in meiotic cells to better understand why it has oncogenic potential.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
    • "Aurora C is capable of fully supporting mitotic progression in the absence of Aurora B in human somatic cells (Slattery et al., 2009) and mouse embryo development (Fernandez- Miranda et al., 2011). Although the need for an alternative Aurora kinase remains poorly understood, Aurora C has been shown to have improved protein stability during the cleavage divisions in mouse embryos (Schindler et al., 2012). In addition, the function of Aurora C seems to be distinct from Aurora B during female mouse meiosis I, where loss of Aurora C function results in erroneous microtubule attachments , but the MC and cytokinesis remain undisturbed (Balboula and Schindler, 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: Are the kinase feedback loops that regulate activation and centromeric targeting of the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC), functional during mitosis in human embryos? Investigation of the regulatory kinase pathways involved in centromeric CPC targeting revealed normal phosphorylation dynamics of histone H2A at T120 (H2ApT120) by Bub1 kinase and subsequent recruitment of Shugoshin, but phosphorylation of histone H3 at threonine 3 (H3pT3) by Haspin failed to show the expected centromeric enrichment on metaphase chromosomes in the zygote. Human cleavage stage embryos show high levels of chromosomal instability. What causes this high error rate is unknown, as mechanisms used to ensure proper chromosome segregation in mammalian embryos are poorly described. In this study, we investigated the pathways regulating CPC targeting to the inner centromere in human embryos. We characterized the distribution of the CPC in relation to activity of its two main centromeric targeting pathways: the Bub1-H2ApT120-Sgo-CPC and Haspin-H3pT3-CPC pathways. The study was conducted between May 2012 and March 2014 on human surplus embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization treatment and donated for research. In zygotes, nuclear envelope breakdown was monitored by time-lapse imaging to allow timed incubations with specific inhibitors to arrest at prometaphase and metaphase, and to interfere with Haspin and Aurora B/C kinase activity. Functionality of the targeting pathways was assessed through characterization of histone phosphorylation dynamics by immunofluorescent analysis, combined with gene expression by RT-qPCR and immunofluorescent localization of key pathway proteins. Immunofluorescent analysis of the CPC subunit Inner Centromere Protein revealed the pool of stably bound CPC proteins was not strictly confined to the inner centromere of prometaphase chromosomes in human zygotes, as observed in later stages of preimplantation development and somatic cells. Investigation of the regulatory kinase pathways involved in centromeric CPC targeting revealed normal phosphorylation dynamics of histone H2A at T120 (H2ApT120) by Bub1 kinase and subsequent recruitment of Shugoshin. However, phosphorylation of histone H3 at threonine 3 (H3pT3) by Haspin kinase failed to show the expected centromeric enrichment on metaphase chromosomes in the zygote, but not at later stages. Inhibition of Haspin revealed this activity to be essential for proper mitotic checkpoint complex activation in human zygotes, thus demonstrating an active mitotic checkpoint under normal conditions. Abolishment of H3pT3 during zygotic prometaphase further shows that centromeric H2ApT120 alone is not sufficient for proper shugoshin and CPC localization. As the removal of H3pT3 from the chromosome arms during prometaphase normally contributes to further centromeric enrichment of the CPC in somatic cells, CPC targeting may be less accurate in human zygotes. Owing to ethical limitations, tripronuclear zygotes were used in functional experiments. Although these represent the best available models, it is unknown if they are completely representative for dipronuclear zygotes. In addition, further research is needed to determine to what extent the differences we observed in H3T3 phosphorylation dynamics and CPC localization affect chromosome attachment. In the zygote, paternal and maternal chromosomes coming from two separate pronuclei, and with contrasting epigenetic signatures, need to be aligned on a single metaphase plate. Our results suggest that adaptations in mechanisms regulating CPC targeting exist in the human zygote, to ensure symmetric recruitment despite the epigenetic asymmetry between maternal and paternal chromosomes. This adaptation may come at a price regarding chromosome segregation fidelity. This study was funded by the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email:
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Human Reproduction
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    • "), and its function is important for meiotic cell cycle progression (Hu et al., 2000; Chen et al., 2005; Tang et al., 2006; Yang et al., 2010; Schindler et al., 2012; Yang et al., 2013; Balboula and Schindler, 2014) and post-meiotic sperm development (Kimmins et al., 2007). However, the expression levels in single oocytes relative to other cell types and the expression of the individual splice variants is not known. "
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    ABSTRACT: Chromosome segregation is an extensively choreographed process yet errors still occur frequently in female meiosis, leading to implantation failure, miscarriage or offspring with developmental disorders. Aurora kinase C (AURKC) is a component of the chromosome passenger complex and is highly expressed in gametes. Studies in mouse oocytes indicate that AURKC is required to regulate chromosome segregation during meiosis I (MI); however, little is known about the functional significance of AURKC in human oocytes. Three splice variants of AURKC exist in testis tissue. To determine which splice variants human oocytes express, we performed quantitative real time PCR using single oocytes and found expression of all three variants. To evaluate the functional differences between the variants, we created GFP-tagged constructs of each variant to express in oocytes from Aurkc(-/-) mice. By quantifying metaphase chromosome alignment, cell cycle progression, phosphorylation of INCENP, and microtubule attachments to kinetochores, we found that AURKC_v1 was the most capable of the variants at supporting metaphase I chromosome segregation. AURKC_v3 localized to chromosomes properly and supported cell cycle progression to metaphase II, but its inability to correct erroneous microtubule attachments to kinetochores meant that chromosome segregation was not as accurate compared to that caused by the other three variants. Finally when we expressed the three variants simultaneously, error correction was more robust than when they were expressed on their own. Therefore, oocytes express three variants of AURKC that are not functionally equivalent in supporting meiosis, but fully complement meiosis when expressed simultaneously. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Molecular Human Reproduction
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