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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jul 25;278(30):27495-501. Epub 2003 May 9.

AMP-activated protein kinase regulates HNF4alpha transcriptional activity by inhibiting dimer formation and decreasing protein stability.

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Department of Pathology and the Center for Integrative Metabolic and Endocrine Research, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is the central component of a cellular signaling system that regulates multiple metabolic enzymes and pathways in response to reduced intracellular energy levels. The transcription factor hepatic nuclear factor 4alpha (HNF4alpha) is an orphan nuclear receptor that regulates the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism in the liver, intestine, and endocrine pancreas. Inheritance of a single null allele of HNF4alpha causes diabetes in humans. Here we demonstrate that AMPK directly phosphorylates HNF4alpha and represses its transcriptional activity. AMPK-mediated phosphorylation of HNF4alpha on serine 304 had a 2-fold effect, reducing the ability of the transcription factor to form homodimers and bind DNA and increasing its degradation rate in vivo. These results demonstrate that HNF4alpha is a downstream target of AMPK and raise the possibility that one of the effects of AMPK activation is reduced expression of HNF4alpha target genes.

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