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P Chieffi, G Troncone, A Caleo, S Libertini, S Linardopoulos, D Tramontano, and G Portella

Aurora/Ipl1-related kinases are a conserved family of proteins that have multiple functions during mitotic progression. High levels of Aurora kinases are characteristic of rapidly dividing cells and tumours. Aurora B encodes a protein that associates with condensing chromatin, concentrates at centromeres, and then relocates onto the central spindle at anaphase. In this study the expression and the localisation of Aurora B throughout germinal epithelial progression in normal testis and its neoplastic counterpart were analysed. Immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR analysis of mouse germinal epithelium cells showed the presence of Aurora B in spermatogonia and occasionally in spermatocytes. Western blot analysis revealed the typical Aurora B isoform ( approximately 41 kDa) in the same cellular types. A similar distribution was observed in human testis by immunohistochemistry. Moreover, the distribution and the expression of Aurora B were investigated in neoplasms derived from germ cells. Surgical samples of seminomas were analysed, and a high percentage of Aurora B positive cells (51%) was detected; the expression of Aurora B was significantly related to the MIB-1 proliferation marker (R=0.816). The data presented here demonstrate that Aurora B expression occurs in spermatogonial division. Furthermore, our results indicate that the expression of Aurora B is a consistent feature of human seminomas.