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J Biol Chem. 2005 Mar 18;280(11):9963-72. Epub 2005 Jan 7.

Glucose deprivation increases mRNA stability of vascular endothelial growth factor through activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in DU145 prostate carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical Research Center for Bioreaction to Reactive Oxygen Species, Kyung Hee University College of Medicine, Seoul 130-701, Korea.


The induction of proangiogenic cytokines such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a critical feature of tumor angiogenesis. In the present study, we examined the mechanisms of VEGF gene expression induced by glucose deprivation in cancer cells, a role of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the process, and the signal transduction pathway. AMPK functions as an energy sensor to provide metabolic adaptation under ATP-depleting conditions such as hypoxia and nutritional deprivation. Here, we show that glucose deprivation leads to a significant increase in the mRNA level of VEGF, GLUT1, and PFKFB3 genes in several cancer cells via a hypoxia-inducible factor-1-independent mechanism, and we demonstrate an essential role of AMPK in these gene expressions. Our data suggest that VEGF mRNA induction by glucose deprivation is due to an increase in mRNA stability, and the AMPK activity is necessary and sufficient to confer the stability to VEGF mRNA. We further show that reactive oxygen species is involved in glucose deprivation-induced AMPK activity in DU145 human prostate carcinomas, and c-Jun amino-terminal kinase acts as an upstream component in AMPK activation cascades under these conditions. LKB1, which was recently identified as a direct upstream kinase of AMPK, was not detected in DU145 cells. In conclusion, our results demonstrate a novel and major role of AMPK in the post-transcriptional regulation of VEGF, further implying its potential role in tumor angiogenesis.

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