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      AMPK: keeping the (power)house in order?


      Neuronal Signaling

      Portland Press Ltd.

      AMP-activated protein kinase, fission, mitochondria, mitophagy, neuron

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          Metabolically energetic organs, such as the brain, require a reliable source of ATP, the majority of which is provided by oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondrial matrix. Maintaining mitochondrial integrity is therefore of paramount importance in highly specialized cells such as neurons. Beyond acting as cellular ‘power stations’ and initiators of apoptosis, neuronal mitochondria are highly mobile, transported to pre- and post-synaptic sites for rapid, localized ATP production, serve to buffer physiological and pathological calcium and contribute to dendritic arborization. Given such roles, it is perhaps unsurprising that recent studies implicate AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a cellular energy-sensitive metabolic regulator, in triggering mitochondrial fission, potentially balancing mitochondrial dynamics, biogenesis and mitophagy.

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          Most cited references 18

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          AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) action in skeletal muscle via direct phosphorylation of PGC-1alpha.

          Activation of AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) in skeletal muscle increases glucose uptake, fatty acid oxidation, and mitochondrial biogenesis by increasing gene expression in these pathways. However, the transcriptional components that are directly targeted by AMPK are still elusive. The peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1alpha (PGC-1alpha) has emerged as a master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis; furthermore, it has been shown that PGC-1alpha gene expression is induced by exercise and by chemical activation of AMPK in skeletal muscle. Using primary muscle cells and mice deficient in PGC-1alpha, we found that the effects of AMPK on gene expression of glucose transporter 4, mitochondrial genes, and PGC-1alpha itself are almost entirely dependent on the function of PGC-1alpha protein. Furthermore, AMPK phosphorylates PGC-1alpha directly both in vitro and in cells. These direct phosphorylations of the PGC-1alpha protein at threonine-177 and serine-538 are required for the PGC-1alpha-dependent induction of the PGC-1alpha promoter. These data indicate that AMPK phosphorylation of PGC-1alpha initiates many of the important gene regulatory functions of AMPK in skeletal muscle.
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            Ulk1-mediated phosphorylation of AMPK constitutes a negative regulatory feedback loop.

            Unc-51-like kinase 1 (Ulk1) plays a central role in autophagy induction. It forms a stable complex with Atg13 and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) family interacting protein of 200 kDa (FIP 200). This complex is negatively regulated by the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) in a nutrient-dependent way. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is activated by LKB1/Strad/Mo25 upon high AMP levels, stimulates autophagy by inhibiting mTORC1. Recently, it has been described that AMPK and Ulk1 interact and that the latter is phosphorylated by AMPK. This phosphorylation leads to the direct activation of Ulk1 by AMPK bypassing mTOR-inhibition. Here we report that Ulk1/2 in turn phosphorylates all three subunits of AMPK and thereby negatively regulates its activity. Thus, we propose that Ulk1 is not only involved in the induction of autophagy, but also in terminating signaling events that trigger autophagy. In our model, phosphorylation of AMPK by Ulk1 represents a negative feedback circuit.
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              Acute metformin preconditioning confers neuroprotection against focal cerebral ischaemia by pre-activation of AMPK-dependent autophagy.

               Xi-Chen Zhu,  Fu Wang,  Jin Yu (2014)
              Recent clinical trials report that metformin, an activator of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) used to treat type 2 diabetes, significantly reduces the risk of stroke by actions that are independent of its glucose-lowering effects. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not known. Here, we tested the possibility that acute metformin preconditioning confers neuroprotection by pre-activation of AMPK-dependent autophagy in a rat model of permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO). Male Sprague-Dawley rats were pretreated with either vehicle, an AMPK inhibitor, Compound C, or an autophagy inhibitor, 3-methyladenine, and were injected with a single dose of metformin (10 mg kg(-1), i.p.). Then, AMPK activity and autophagy biomarkers in the brain were assessed. At 24 h after metformin treatment, rats were subjected to pMCAO; infarct volume, neurological deficits and cell apoptosis were evaluated 24 and 96 h later. A single dose of metformin significantly activated AMPK and induced autophagy in the brain. The enhanced autophagic activity was inhibited by Compound C pretreatment. Furthermore, acute metformin preconditioning significantly reduced infarct volume, neurological deficits and cell apoptosis during a subsequent focal cerebral ischaemia. The neuroprotection mediated by metformin preconditioning was fully abolished by Compound C and partially inhibited by 3-methyladenine. These results provide the first evidence that acute metformin preconditioning induces autophagy by activation of brain AMPK, which confers neuroprotection against subsequent cerebral ischaemia. This suggests that metformin, a well-known hypoglycaemic drug, may have a practical clinical use for stroke prevention. © 2014 The British Pharmacological Society.

                Author and article information

                Neuronal Signal
                Neuronal Signal
                Neuronal Signaling
                Portland Press Ltd.
                April 2017
                24 March 2017
                : 1
                : 2
                Perinatal Brain Injury Group, Centre for the Developing Brain, Division of Imaging Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, King's College London, St. Thomas’ Hospital, London SE1 7EH, U.K.
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Claire Thornton ( claire.thornton@ 123456kcl.ac.uk )
                © 2017 The Author(s).

                This is an open access article published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society and distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).

                Page count
                Pages: 5
                Molecular Bases of Health & Disease


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