Opinion: alternative views of AMP-activated protein kinase

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Genes most closely related to adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase, including SAD kinases and Par-1 regulate cell polarity, although AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) modulates cellular energy status. LKB1 (Par-4) is required for normal activation of AMPK in the liver and also regulates cell polarity. AMPK is proposed to inhibit energy consuming activity while initiating energy producing activity during energy limitation. Demonstration that metformin, a common drug for Type 2 diabetes, requires LKB1 for full therapeutic benefit has increased interest in AMPK signaling. Despite the potential importance of AMPK signaling for diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even cancer, the developmental processes regulated by AMPK in genetically mutant animals require further elucidation. Mouse conditional null mutants for AMPK activity will allow genetic elucidation of AMPK function in vivo. This perspective focuses on sequence and structural moieties of AMPK and genetic analysis of AMPK mutations. Interestingly, the predicted protein structure of the carboxy-terminus of AMPKα resembles the carboxy-terminal KA-1 domain of MARK3, a Par-1 orthologue.

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