Author(s): Cardaci S, Filomeni G, Ciriolo MR
Since the discovery of AMP-dependent protein kinase (AMPK), its fundamental role in regulating metabolic pathways and the molecular mechanism underlying the regulation of its activity by adenine nucleotides has been widely studied. AMPK is not only an energy-responsive enzyme, but it also senses redox signals. This review aims at recapitulating the recent lines of evidence that demonstrate the responsiveness of this kinase to metabolic and nitroxidative imbalance, thus providing new insights into the intimate networks of redox-based signals upstream of AMPK. In particular, we discuss its well-recognized activation downstream of mitochondrial dysfunction, debate the recent findings that AMPK is directly targeted by pro-oxidant species, and question alternative redox pathways that allow AMPK to be included into the large class of redox-sensing proteins. The possible therapeutic implications of the role of AMPK in redox-associated pathologies, such as cancer and neurodegeneration, are also discussed in light of recent advances that suggest a role for AMPK in the tuning of redox-dependent processes, such as apoptosis and autophagy.