Aurora A kinase regulates proper spindle positioning in C-elegans and in human cells
Accurate spindle positioning is essential for error-free cell division. The one-cell Caenorhabditis elegans embryo has proven instrumental for dissecting mechanisms governing spindle positioning. Despite important progress, how the cortical forces that act on astral microtubules to properly position the spindle are modulated is incompletely understood. Here, we report that the PP6 phosphatase PPH-6 and its associated subunit SAPS-1, which positively regulate pulling forces acting on spindle poles, associate with the Aurora A kinase AIR-1 in C. elegans embryos. We show that acute inactivation of AIR-1 during mitosis results in excess pulling forces on astral microtubules. Furthermore, we uncover that AIR-1 acts downstream of PPH-6-SAPS-1 in modulating spindle positioning, and that PPH-6-SAPS-1 negatively regulates AIR-1 localization at the cell cortex. Moreover, we show that Aurora A and the PP6 phosphatase subunit PPP6C are also necessary for spindle positioning in human cells. There, Aurora A is needed for the cortical localization of NuMA and dynein during mitosis. Overall, our work demonstrates that Aurora A kinases and PP6 phosphatases have an ancient function in modulating spindle positioning, thus contributing to faithful cell division.