Hesperadin is an inhibitor of human Aurora B, which can prevent the phosphorylation of substrate with IC(50) of 40 nM. Growth of cultured bloodstream forms was also sensitive to Hesperadin (IC(50) of 50 nM). Hesperadin blocked nuclear division and cytokinesis but not other aspects of the cell cycle. Consequently, growth arrested cells accumulated multiple kinetoplasts, flagella and nucleoli, similar to the effects of RNAi-dependent knockdown of TbAUK1 in cultured bloodstream forms cells. Molecular models predicted high-affinity binding of Hesperadin to both conserved and novel sites in TbAUK1. Collectively, these data demonstrate that cell cycle progression is essential for infections with T. brucei and that parasite Aurora kinases can be targeted with small-molecule inhibitors.
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