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Ashwagandha Derived Withanone Targets TPX2-Aurora a Complex: Computational and Experimental Evidence to Its Anticancer Activity

Grover A, Singh R, Shandilya A, Priyandoko D, Agrawal V, Bisaria VS, Wadhwa R, Kaul SC, Sundar D. Ashwagandha derived withanone targets TPX2-Aurora A complex: computational and experimental evidence to its anticancer activity. 1. PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30890. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

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.