Targeting AMP-activated protein kinase as a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of metabolic disorders

B Viollet, R Mounier, J Leclerc, A Yazigi, M Foretz, F Andreelli
Diabetes & Metabolism 2007, 33 (6): 395-402
In the light of recent studies in humans and rodents, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a phylogenetically conserved serine/threonine protein kinase, has been described as an integrator of regulatory signals monitoring systemic and cellular energy status. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) has been proposed to function as a 'fuel gauge' to monitor cellular energy status in response to nutritional environmental variations. Recently, it has been proposed that AMPK could provide a link in metabolic defects underlying progression to the metabolic syndrome. AMPK is a heterotrimeric enzyme complex consisting of a catalytic subunit alpha and two regulatory subunits beta and gamma. AMPK is activated by rising AMP and falling ATP. AMP activates the system by binding to the gamma subunit that triggers phosphorylation of the catalytic alpha subunit by the upstream kinases LKB1 and CaMKKbeta (calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase). AMPK system is a regulator of energy balance that, once activated by low energy status, switches on ATP-producing catabolic pathways (such as fatty acid oxidation and glycolysis), and switches off ATP-consuming anabolic pathways (such as lipogenesis), both by short-term effect on phosphorylation of regulatory proteins and by long-term effect on gene expression. As well as acting at the level of the individual cell, the system also regulates food intake and energy expenditure at the whole body level, in particular by mediating the effects of insulin sensitizing adipokines leptin and adiponectin. AMPK is robustly activated during skeletal muscle contraction and myocardial ischaemia playing a role in glucose transport and fatty acid oxidation. In liver, activation of AMPK results in enhanced fatty acid oxidation as well as decreased glucose production. Moreover, the AMPK system is one of the probable targets for the anti-diabetic drugs biguanides and thiazolidinediones. Thus, the relationship between AMPK activation and beneficial metabolic effects provide the rationale for the development of new therapeutic strategies in metabolic disorders.

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