The LKB1-AMPK-α1 signaling pathway triggers hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction downstream of mitochondria

Javier Moral-Sanz, Sophronia A. Lewis, Sandy MacMillan, Fiona A. Ross, Adrian Thomson, Benoit Viollet, Marc Foretz, Carmel Moran, D. Grahame Hardie, A. Mark Evans

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22 Citations (Scopus)
218 Downloads (Pure)


Hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV), which aids ventilation-perfusion matching in the lungs, is triggered by mechanisms intrinsic to pulmonary arterial smooth muscles. The unique sensitivity of these muscles to hypoxia is conferred by mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 4 isoform 2, the inhibition of which has been proposed to trigger HPV through increased generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. Contrary to this model, we have shown that the LKB1-AMPK-α1 signaling pathway is critical to HPV. Spectral Doppler ultrasound revealed that deletion of the AMPK-α1 catalytic subunit blocked HPV in mice during mild (8% O2) and severe (5% O2) hypoxia, whereas AMPK-α2 deletion attenuated HPV only during severe hypoxia. By contrast, neither of these genetic manipulations affected serotonin-induced reductions in pulmonary vascular flow. HPV was also attenuated by reduced expression of LKB1, a kinase that activates AMPK during energy stress, but not after deletion of CaMKK2, a kinase that activates AMPK in response to increases in cytoplasmic Ca2+ Fluorescence imaging of acutely isolated pulmonary arterial myocytes revealed that AMPK-α1 or AMPK-α2 deletion did not affect mitochondrial membrane potential during normoxia or hypoxia. However, deletion of AMPK-α1, but not of AMPK-α2, blocked hypoxia from inhibiting KV1.5, the classical "oxygen-sensing" K+ channel in pulmonary arterial myocytes. We conclude that LKB1-AMPK-α1 signaling pathways downstream of mitochondria are critical for the induction of HPV, in a manner also supported by AMPK-α2 during severe hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaau0296
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalScience Signaling
Issue number550
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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