AMP-activated protein kinase - a journey from 1 to 100 downstream targets

D. Grahame Hardie (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


A casual decision made one evening in 1976, in a bar near the Biochemistry Department at the University of Dundee, led me to start my personal research journey by following up a paper that suggested that acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) (believed to be a key regulatory enzyme of fatty acid synthesis) was inactivated by phosphorylation by what appeared to be a novel, cyclic AMP-independent protein kinase. This led me to define and name the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signalling pathway, on which I am still working 46 years later. ACC was the first known downstream target for AMPK, but at least 100 others have now been identified. This article contains some personal reminiscences of that research journey, focussing on: (i) the early days when we were defining the kinase and developing the key tools required to study it; (ii) the late 1990s and early 2000s, an exciting time when we and others were identifying the upstream kinases; (iii) recent times when we have been studying the complex role of AMPK in cancer. The article is published in conjunction with the Sir Philip Randle Lecture of the Biochemical Society, which I gave in September 2022 at the European Workshop on AMPK and AMPK-related kinases in Clydebank, Scotland. During the early years of my research career, Sir Philip acted as a role model, due to his pioneering work on insulin signalling and the regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2327-2343
Number of pages17
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number22
Early online date16 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022


  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases/genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Multienzyme Complexes/metabolism
  • Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase/metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • protein-serine–threonine kinases
  • intracellular signaling
  • history
  • phosphorylation/dephosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'AMP-activated protein kinase - a journey from 1 to 100 downstream targets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this