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AMPK activates autophagy by activating ATG1 enzyme

October 13, 2015

And that is precisely what the researchers saw: liver cells in which AMPK had been eliminated contained too many mitochondria, many of which looked spindly, indicating they were moribund, and confirming that AMPK was directing autophagic waste disposal. "We found that the ability to recycle their defective mitochondria allowed cells to survive starvation better," says Shaw.

To tie it all together, the researchers used the roundworm C. elegans, a popular model system in aging research, to show that activated AMPK directly activated autophagy through a signal relayed by the worm version of Atg1/ULK1??experiments done in collaboration with Malene Hansen, Ph.D., of La Jolla's Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and with help from Andy Dillin, Ph.D., of Salk's Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory,

"The worm experiments show that the connection between AMPK, ULK1 and autophagy is conserved across evolution and not just a recent adaptation specific to mammals," says Egan. "Processes fundamental to life, like energy regulation, metabolism and autophagy, share components across human, mouse, worm, and yeast species."

But if you aren't an evolutionary biologist, you still have a personal stake in AMPK signaling if you: exercise regularly, feel good about drinking red wine, take diabetes meds, and/or starve yourself in hopes of a long life??all of which reportedly stimulate AMPK signals.

Add to that the possibility that AMPK may have anti-tumor activity and it is no wonder that pharmaceutical companies are keenly interested in what proteins AMPK "talks to" and how drugs that stimulate that conversation work.

SOURCE Salk Institute for Biological Studies???