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Mech Ageing Dev. 2011 Nov-Dec;132(11-12):543-51. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2011.09.002. Epub 2011 Sep 21.

The activation of the p53 pathway by the AMP mimetic AICAR is reduced by inhibitors of the ATM or mTOR kinases.

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Center for Translational Research and Molecular Biology of Cancer, Maria Skłodowska - Curie Memorial Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology, Gliwice Branch, ul. Wybrzeże Armii Krajowej 15, 44-101 Gliwice, Poland.


A balanced diet reduces the risk of life-threatening diseases such as diabetes and cancer. A reduced supply of energy at the cellular level leads to an increased concentration of AMP, which, in turn, results in LKB1-mediated activation of the AMPK kinase. The activation of the p53 tumor suppressor protein by metabolic stress has been shown to be mediated by AMPK. Increased intracellular AMP can be mimicked by 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleoside (AICAR). We showed that AICAR activated the p53 pathway in LKB1-deficient cells. This activation was strongly attenuated by two inhibitors of the ATM kinase (caffeine and Ku-55933), which is dysfunctional in ataxia-telanagiectasia patients. In cells with ATM expression silenced by shRNA, AICAR-induced p53 phosphorylation at Ser(15) and Ser(37) was attenuated. Furthermore, p53 activation by AICAR was blocked by rapamycin, a specific inhibitor of the mTOR kinase, which is a crucial regulator of cell growth. Rapamycin did not block p53 activation by resveratrol, which, in contrast to AICAR, induced the DNA damage response, senescence-like growth inhibition, a high level of post-translational modification of p53, and weak upregulation of MDM2 (the negative regulator of p53). Thus, ATM and mTOR participate in the activation of p53 in response to a compound mimicking metabolic stress.

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