Background: AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is highly conserved from yeast to plants and animals and plays a key role in the regulation of energy homeostasis (1). AMPK is a heterotrimeric complex composed of a catalytic α subunit and regulatory β and γ subunits, each of which is encoded by two or three distinct genes (α1, 2; β1, 2; γ1, 2, 3) (2). The kinase is activated by an elevated AMP/ATP ratio due to cellular and environmental stress, such as heat shock, hypoxia, and ischemia (1). The tumor suppressor LKB1, in association with accessory proteins STRAD and MO25, phosphorylates AMPKα at Thr172 in the activation loop, and this phosphorylation is required for AMPK activation (3-5). AMPKα is also phosphorylated at Thr258 and Ser485 (for α1; Ser491 for α2). The upstream kinase and the biological significance of these phosphorylation events have yet to be elucidated (6). The β1 subunit is post-translationally modified by myristoylation and multi-site phosphorylation including Ser24/25, Ser96, Ser101, Ser108, and Ser182 (6,7). Phosphorylation at Ser108 of the β1 subunit seems to be required for the activation of AMPK enzyme, while phosphorylation at Ser24/25 and Ser182 affects AMPK localization (7). Several mutations in AMPKγ subunits have been identified, most of which are located in the putative AMP/ATP binding sites (CBS or Bateman domains). Mutations at these sites lead to reduction of AMPK activity and cause glycogen accumulation in heart or skeletal muscle (1,2). Accumulating evidence indicates that AMPK not only regulates the metabolism of fatty acids and glycogen, but also modulates protein synthesis and cell growth through EF2 and TSC2/mTOR pathways, as well as blood flow via eNOS/nNOS (1).
Background: Protein kinase-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) is an eIF2α kinase and transmembrane protein resident in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane that couples ER stress signals to translation inhibition (1-3). ER stress increases the activity of PERK, which then phosphorylates eIF2α to promote reduced translation. Research studies have demonstrated that PERK-deficient mice have defects in pancreatic β cells several weeks after birth, suggesting a role for PERK-mediated translational control in protecting secretory cells from ER stress (4). PERK activation during ER stress correlates with autophosphorylation of its cytoplasmic kinase domain (1-3). Phosphorylation of PERK at Thr980 serves as a marker for its activation status.