Bexarotene - a novel modulator of AURKA and the primary cilium in VHL-deficient cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Loss of the gene von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) is associated with loss of primary cilia and is causally linked to elevated levels of Aurora kinase A (AURKA). We developed an image-based high-throughput screening (HTS) assay using a dual-labeling image analysis strategy that identifies both the cilium and the basal body. By using this strategy, we screened small-molecule compounds for the targeted rescue of cilia defects associated with VHL deficiency with high accuracy and reproducibility. Bexarotene was identified and validated as a positive regulator of the primary cilium. Importantly, the inability of an alternative retinoid X receptor (RXR) agonist to rescue ciliogenesis, in contrast to bexarotene, suggested that multiple bexarotene-driven mechanisms were responsible for the rescue. We found that bexarotene decreased AURKA expression in VHL-deficient cells, thereby restoring the ability of these cells to ciliate in the absence of VHL Finally, bexarotene treatment reduced the propensity of subcutaneous lesions to develop into tumors in a mouse xenograft model of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), with a concomitant decrease in activated AURKA, highlighting the potential of bexarotene treatment as an intervention strategy in the clinic to manage renal cystogenesis associated with VHL deficiency and elevated AURKA expression.

published proceedings

  • J Cell Sci

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Chowdhury, P., Powell, R. T., Stephan, C., Uray, I. P., Talley, T., Karki, M., ... Dere, R.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Chowdhury, Pratim||Powell, Reid T||Stephan, Clifford||Uray, Ivan P||Talley, Tia||Karki, Menuka||Tripathi, Durga Nand||Park, Yong Sung||Mancini, Michael A||Davies, Peter||Dere, Ruhee

publication date

  • December 2018