Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Rep. 2015 Oct 1;5:14728. doi: 10.1038/srep14728.

Activation of the AMPK-ULK1 pathway plays an important role in autophagy during prion infection.

Author information

Department of Immunology, and Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Medical Science and Laboratory Medicine, School of Medicine, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang 212013, Jiangsu, China.
State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, Collaborative Innovation Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases (Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310003), National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chang-Bai Rd 155, Beijing 102206, China.
Chinese Academy of Sciences Key Laboratory of Pathogenic Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.


AMPK is a serine/threonine protein kinase that acts as a positive regulator of autophagy, by phosphorylating ULK1 at specific sites. A previous study demonstrated activation of the macroautophagic system in scrapie-infected experimental rodents and in certain human prion diseases, in which the essential negative regulator mTOR is severely inhibited. In this study, AMPK and ULK1 in the brains of hamsters infected with scrapie strain 263 K and in the scrapie-infected cell line SMB-S15 were analysed. The results showed an up-regulated trend of AMPK and AMPK-Thr172, ULK1 and ULK1-Ser555. Increases in brain AMPK and ULK1 occurred at an early stage of agent 263 K infection. The level of phosphorylated ULK1-Ser757 decreased during mid-infection and was only negligibly present at the terminal stage, a pattern that suggested a close relationship of the phosphorylated protein with altered endogenous mTOR. In addition, the level of LKB1 associated with AMPK activation was selectively increased at the early and middle stages of infection. Knockdown of endogenous ULK1 in SMB-S15 cells inhibited LC3 lipidation. These results showed that, in addition to the abolishment of the mTOR regulatory pathway, activation of the AMPK-ULK1 pathway during prion infection contributes to autophagy activation in prion-infected brain tissues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center