Oncogene 2017 10 0237(4) 502-511 doi 10.1038/onc.2017.354
Deletion or loss-of-function mutation of LKB1, frequently occurring in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs), is a predominant caution of NSCLC initiation and progression. However, the upstream signaling pathways governing LKB1 activation are largely unknown. Here, we report that LKB1 undergoes Aurora kinase A (AURKA)-mediated phosphorylation, which largely compromises the LKB1/AMPK signaling axis, in turn leading to the elevation of NSCLC cell proliferation, invasion and migration. Mechanically, AURKA-mediated phosphorylation of LKB1 impairs LKB1 interaction with and phosphorylation of its downstream target AMPKα, which has critical roles in governing cancer cell energy metabolic homeostasis and tumorigenesis. Clinically, AURKA displays high levels in NSCLC patients, and correlates with poor outcome of patients with lung adenocarcinoma. Pathologically, the amplification or activation of AURKA-induced impairment of the LKB1/AMPK signaling pathway contributes to NSCLC initiation and progression, highlighting AURKA as a potential therapeutic target for combatting hyperactive AURKA-driven NSCLCs.