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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2005 Apr;17(2):167-73.

New roles for the LKB1-->AMPK pathway.

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Division of Molecular Physiology, Wellcome Trust Biocentre, University of Dundee, Dow Street, Dundee, DD1 4HN, Scotland, UK.


The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a sensor of cellular energy that is conserved throughout eukaryotes. It is activated by rising AMP, signifying falling energy status caused by starvation for a carbon source or other stress. Binding of AMP to the regulatory gamma subunit triggers phosphorylation of the catalytic alpha subunit by the upstream kinase LKB1, and the activated kinase switches on ATP-generating catabolic pathways while switching off ATP-requiring processes. AMPK inhibits the TOR (target of rapamycin) pathway by phosphorylating TSC2, thus inhibiting cell growth during times of stress. AMPK is also a target for adipokines that regulate energy balance at the whole-body level.

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