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Cancer Res. 2008 Jul 1;68(13):5492-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-6721.

Dietary energy restriction modulates the activity of AMP-activated protein kinase, Akt, and mammalian target of rapamycin in mammary carcinomas, mammary gland, and liver.

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Cancer Prevention Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.


Dietary energy restriction (DER) inhibits mammary carcinogenesis, yet mechanisms accounting for its protective activity have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that DER exerts effects on intracellular energy sensing pathways, resulting in alterations of phosphorylated proteins that play a key role in the regulation of cancer. Experiments were conducted using the 1-methyl-1-nitrosourea-induced mammary cancer model in which rats were 0%, 20%, or 40% energy restricted during the postinitiation stage of carcinogenesis. Parallel experiments were done in non-carcinogen-treated rats in which effects of DER at 0%, 5%, 10%, 20%, or 40% in liver were investigated. In a DER dose-dependent manner, levels of Thr(172) phosphorylated AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) increased in mammary carcinomas with a concomitant increase in phosphorylated acetyl-CoA-carboxylase, a direct target of AMPK, the phosphorylation of which is regarded as an indicator of AMPK activity. Levels of phosphorylated mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) decreased with increasing DER, and down-regulation of mTOR activity was verified by a decrease in the phosphorylation state of two mTOR targets, 70-kDa ribosomal protein S6 kinase (p70S6K) and eukaryote initiation factor 4E binding protein 1 (4E-BP1). Coincident with changes in mTOR phosphorylation, levels of activated protein kinase B (Akt) were also reduced. Similar patterns were observed in mammary glands and livers of non-carcinogen-treated rats. This work identifies components of intracellular energy sensing pathways, specifically mTOR, its principal upstream regulators, AMPK and Akt, and its downstream targets, p70S6K and 4E-BP1, as candidate molecules on which to center mechanistic studies of DER.

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