Research Horizons


AMPK Cancer Suppressor Sometimes Acts as a Cancer Driver

The protein AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) is best known as a cancer suppressor. But in a study published online June 18, 2018, in Nature Cell Biology, scientists here report that the protein actually drives growth of certain deadly brain cancers.

“AMPK is considered to play a suppressive role in cancer because it inhibits cancer-promoting enzymes like mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and acetyl Co-A carboxylase (ACC),” says senior investigator, Biplab Dasgupta, PhD, who collaborated with first author Rishi Raj Chhipa, PhD, and others.

“Our study uses analysis of the Cancer Genome Atlas to show that AMPK proteins are expressed in lethal human glioblastoma, and inhibiting AMPK by genetic means shrinks brain tumors and prolongs survival in mice.”

The researchers say they hope the study will encourage pharmaceutical companies to search for AMPK inhibitors.

Publication Information
Original title: AMP kinase promotes glioblastoma bioenergetics and tumour growth
Published in: Nature Cell Biology
Publish date: June 18, 2018
Read the study

Research By

Biplab Dasgupta, PhD
Division of Oncology
Our lab explores the integration of metabolic and signaling pathways that regulate cancer development and progression.