Aurora family kinases contribute to regulation of mitosis. Using RNA interference in synchronized HeLa cells, we now show that Aurora-A is required for mitotic entry. We found that initial activation of Aurora-A in late G2 phase of the cell cycle is essential for recruitment of the cyclin B1-Cdk1 complex to centrosomes, where it becomes activated and commits cells to mitosis. A two-hybrid screen identified the LIM protein Ajuba as an Aurora-A binding protein. Ajuba and Aurora-A interact in mitotic cells and become phosphorylated as they do so. In vitro analyses revealed that Ajuba induces the autophosphorylation and consequent activation of Aurora-A. Depletion of Ajuba prevented activation of Aurora-A at centrosomes in late G2 phase and inhibited mitotic entry. Overall, our data suggest that Ajuba is an essential activator of Aurora-A in mitotic commitment.
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