AMPK Causes Cell Cycle Arrest in LKB1-deficient Cells via Activation of CAMKK2

Sarah Fogarty, Fiona A. Ross, Diana Vara Ciruelos, Alexander Gray, Graeme J. Gowans, D. Grahame Hardie (Lead / Corresponding author)

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The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is activated by phosphorylation at Thr172, either by the tumor suppressor kinase LKB1 or by an alternate pathway involving the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase, CAMKK2. Increases in AMP:ATP and ADP:ATP ratios, signifying energy deficit, promote allosteric activation and net Thr172 phosphorylation mediated by LKB1, so that the LKB1-AMPK pathway acts as an energy sensor. Many tumor cells carry loss-of-function mutations in the STK11 gene encoding LKB1, but LKB1 re-expression in these cells causes cell cycle arrest. Therefore, it was investigated as to whether arrest by LKB1 is caused by activation of AMPK or of one of the AMPK-related kinases, which are also dependent on LKB1 but are not activated by CAMKK2. In three LKB1-null tumor cell lines, treatment with the Ca2+ ionophore A23187 caused a G1-arrest that correlated with

AMPK activation and Thr172 phosphorylation. In G361 cells, expression of a truncated, CAMKK2 mutant also caused G1-arrest similar to that caused by expression of LKB1, while expression of a dominant negative AMPK mutant, or a double knockout of both AMPK-α subunits, also prevented the cell cycle arrest caused by A23187. These mechanistic findings confirm that AMPK activation triggers cell cycle arrest, and also suggest that the rapid proliferation of LKB1-null tumor cells is due to lack of the restraining influence of AMPK. However, cell cycle arrest can be restored by re-expressing LKB1 or a constitutively active CAMKK2, or by pharmacological agents that increase intracellular Ca2+ and thus activate endogenous CAMKK2.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-695
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number8
Early online date2 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


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