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The AMPK/SNF1/SnRK1 fuel gauge and energy regulator: structure, function and regulation

Authors

  • Ruben Ghillebert,

    1.  Department of Biology, Laboratory for Functional Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
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  • Erwin Swinnen,

    1.  Department of Biology, Laboratory for Functional Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
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  • Jing Wen,

    1.  Department of Biology, Laboratory for Functional Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
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  • Lies Vandesteene,

    1.  Department of Biology, Laboratory for Functional Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
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  • Matthew Ramon,

    1.  Department of Biology, Laboratory for Functional Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
    2.  Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Koen Norga,

    1.  Laboratory for Developmental Genetics, Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), Leuven, Belgium
    2.  Department of Woman and Child, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
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  • Filip Rolland,

    1.  Department of Biology, Laboratory for Functional Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
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  • Joris Winderickx

    1.  Department of Biology, Laboratory for Functional Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
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J. Winderickx, Laboratory for Functional Biology, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, PO Box 2433, B-3001 Heverlee, Belgium
Fax: +32 16 321967
Tel: +32 16 321516
E-mail: joris.winderickx@bio.kuleuven.be

Abstract

All life forms on earth require a continuous input and monitoring of carbon and energy supplies. The AMP-activated kinase (AMPK)/sucrose nonfermenting1 (SNF1)/Snf1-related kinase1 (SnRK1) protein kinases are evolutionarily conserved metabolic sensors found in all eukaryotic organisms from simple unicellular fungi (yeast SNF1) to animals (AMPK) and plants (SnRK1). Activated by starvation and energy-depleting stress conditions, they enable energy homeostasis and survival by up-regulating energy-conserving and energy-producing catabolic processes, and by limiting energy-consuming anabolic metabolism. In addition, they control normal growth and development as well as metabolic homeostasis at the organismal level. As such, the AMPK/SNF1/SnRK1 kinases act in concert with other central signaling components to control carbohydrate uptake and metabolism, fatty acid and lipid biosynthesis and the storage of carbon energy reserves. Moreover, they have a tremendous impact on developmental processes that are triggered by environmental changes such as nutrient depletion or stress. Although intensive research by many groups has partly unveiled the factors that regulate AMPK/SNF1/SnRK1 kinase activity as well as the pathways and substrates they control, several fundamental issues still await to be clarified. In this review, we will highlight these issues and focus on the structure, function and regulation of the AMPK/SNF1/SnRK1 kinases.

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