The N-terminal domain of the Aurora-A Phe-31 variant encodes an E3 ubiquitin ligase and mediates ubiquitination of IκBα

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Aurora-A is an important regulator of mitosis and is frequently amplified in human cancer. Ectopic expression of Aurora-A in mammalian cells induces centrosome amplification, genomic instability and transformation. A common genetic variant in Aurora-A (F31I) is preferentially amplified and is associated with the occurrence and the status of colon, oesophageal and breast cancers. Here we demonstrate that the N-terminal domain of Aurora-A Phe-31 variant exhibits an intrinsic ubiquitin ligase activity. Mutation of cysteines 8, 33 and 49 of Aurora-A abolishes the ubiquitin ligase activity of the protein. Aurora-A in a complex with UBE2N/MMS2 catalyses polyubiquitination of IκBα in vitro and in vivo.

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