Inactivation of AMPK alters gene expression and promotes growth of prostate cancer cells

J. Zhou, W. Huang, R. Tao, S. Ibaragi, F. Lan, Y. Ido, X. Wu, Y. O. Alekseyev, M. E. Lenburg, G. F. Hu, Z. Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) serves as a fuel-sensing enzyme that is activated by binding of AMP and subsequent phophorylation by upstream kinases such as the tumor suppressor LKB1, when cells sense an increase in the ratio of AMP to ATP. Acute activation of AMPK stimulates fatty acid oxidation to generate more ATP and simultaneously inhibits ATP-consuming processes including fatty acid and protein syntheses, thereby preserving energy for acute cell-surviving program, whereas chronic activation leads to inhibition of cell growth. The goal of the present study is to explore the mechanisms by which AMPK regulates cell growth. Toward this end, we established stable cell lines by introducing a dominant-negative mutant of AMPK α1 subunit or its shRNA into the prostate cancer C4-2 cells and other cells, or wild type LKB1 into the lung adenocarcinoma A549 and breast MB-MDA-231 cancer cells, both of which lack functional LKB1. Our results showed that the inhibition of AMPK accelerated cell proliferation and promoted malignant behavior such as increased cell migration and anchorage-independent growth. This was associated with decreased G1 population, downregulation of p53 and p21, and upregulation of S6K, IGF-1 and IGF1R. Conversely, treatment of the C4-2 cells with 5-aminoimidazole-4- carboxamide 1-D-ribonucleoside (AICAR), a prototypical AMPK activator, caused opposite changes. In addition, our study using microarray and RT-PCR revealed that AMPK regulated gene expression involved in tumor cell growth and survival. Thus, our study provides novel insights into the mechanisms of AMPK action in cancer cells and presents AMPK as an ideal drug target for cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1993-2002
Number of pages10
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • AMPK
  • Cell cycle
  • Cell proliferation
  • LKB1
  • Tumor suppressor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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