Scientists uncover the health effects of metabolic 'magic bullet' protein

phys.org | 1/15/2019 | Staff
Emzah92 (Posted by) Level 3
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The metabolic protein AMPK has been described as a kind of magic bullet for health. Studies in animal models have shown that compounds that activate the protein have health-promoting effects to reverse diabetes, improve cardiovascular health, treat mitochondrial disease—even extend life span. However, how much of the effects of these compounds can be fully attributed to AMPK versus other potential targets is unknown.

Now, Salk researchers have developed a new system that lets them study in more detail than ever exactly how, where and when AMPK carries out its molecular and therapeutic functions. In the paper, published January 2, 2019 in the journal Cell Reports, the Salk team uses the new model to activate AMPK in the livers of adult mice with fatty liver disease.

Model - Questions - Scientists - Salk - Professor

"This model will allow us to answer questions that scientists could not answer before," says Salk Professor and Salk Cancer Center Director Reuben Shaw, who led the new work. "It really gives us a new way to define the health benefits of this specific enzyme in a wide variety of diseases."

AMP-activated protein kinase, or AMPK, is known as a master regulator of metabolism. Cells activate AMPK when they are running low on energy, and AMPK is activated in tissues throughout the body following exercise or during calorie restriction. In response, AMPK alters the activity of many other genes and proteins, helping keep cells alive and functioning even when they're running low on fuel. In different tissues throughout the body and at different time points in development, AMPK likely has varying effects. Until now, the only way to study the specific impact of genetically increasing AMPK activity was to change its activity in an organism for its entire life, starting at embryogenesis.

AMPK - Beginning - Embryogenesis - Effects

"When AMPK is overactivated from the very beginning of embryogenesis, we don't know what effects it's having...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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