Cancer is largely marked by genetic instability. Specific inhibition of individual proteins or signalling pathways that regulate genetic stability during cell division thus hold a great potential for cancer therapy. The Aurora A kinase is a Ser/Thr kinase that plays a critical role during mitosis and cytokinesis and is found upregulated in several cancer types. It is functionally regulated by its interactions with TPX2, a candidate oncogene. Aurora A inhibitors have been proposed as anticancer drugs that work by blocking its ATP binding site. This site is common to other kinases and hence these inhibitors lack specificity for Aurora A inhibition in particular, thus advocating the need of some alternative inhibition route. Previously, we identified TPX2 as a cellular target for withanone that selectively kill cancer cells. By computational approach, we found here that withanone binds to TPX2-Aurora A complex. In experiment, withanone treatment to cancer cells indeed resulted in dissociation of TPX2-Aurora A complex and disruption of mitotic spindle apparatus proposing this as a mechanism of the anticancer activity of withanone. From docking analysis, non-formation/disruption of the active TPX2-Aurora A association complex could be discerned. Our MD simulation results suggesting the thermodynamic and structural stability of TPX2-Aurora A in complex with withanone further substantiates the binding. We report a computational rationale of the ability of naturally occurring withanone to alter the kinase signalling pathway in an ATP-independent manner and experimental evidence in which withanone cause inactivation of the TPX2-Aurora A complex. The study demonstrated that TPX2-Aurora A complex is a target of withanone, a potential natural anticancer drug.
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