Low-intensity contraction activates the alpha1-isoform of 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase in rat skeletal muscle

Taro Toyoda, Satsuki Tanaka, Ken Ebihara, Hiroaki Masuzaki, Kiminori Hosoda, Kenji Sato, Tohru Fushiki, Kazuwa Nakao, Tatsuya Hayashi
American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism 2006, 290 (3): E583-90
Skeletal muscle expresses two catalytic subunits, alpha1 and alpha2, of the 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which has been implicated in contraction-stimulated glucose transport and fatty acid oxidation. Muscle contraction activates the alpha2-containing AMPK complex (AMPKalpha2), but this activation may occur with or without activation of the alpha1-containing AMPK complex (AMPKalpha1), suggesting that AMPKalpha2 is the major isoform responsible for contraction-induced metabolic events in skeletal muscle. We report for the first time that AMPKalpha1, but not AMPKalpha2, can be activated in contracting skeletal muscle. Rat epitrochlearis muscles were isolated and incubated in Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate buffer containing pyruvate. In muscles stimulated to contract at a frequency of 1 and 2 Hz during the last 2 min of incubation, AMPKalpha1 activity increased twofold and AMPKalpha2 activity remained unchanged. Muscle stimulation did not change the muscle AMP concentration or the AMP-to-ATP ratio. AMPK activation was associated with increased phosphorylation of Thr(172) of the alpha-subunit, the primary activation site. Muscle stimulation increased the phosphorylation of acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), a downstream target of AMPK, and the rate of 3-O-methyl-d-glucose transport. In contrast, increasing the frequency (>or=5 Hz) or duration (>or=5 min) of contraction activated AMPKalpha1 and AMPKalpha2 and increased AMP concentration and the AMP/ATP ratio. These results suggest that 1) AMPKalpha1 is the predominant isoform activated by AMP-independent phosphorylation in low-intensity contracting muscle, 2) AMPKalpha2 is activated by an AMP-dependent mechanism in high-intensity contracting muscle, and 3) activation of each isoform enhances glucose transport and ACC phosphorylation in skeletal muscle.

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