AMPK Cancer Suppressor Sometimes Acts as a Cancer Driver

Research By Biplab Dasgupta, PhD

Post Date: June 30, 2019 | Publish Date: June 18, 2018


This micrograph shows the AMPK target protein (stained green) in a glioblastoma grown from transplanted human cancer cells in a mouse brain. Inhibiting the protein slowed tumor growth, suggesting a potential treatment for humans.

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

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The Research Horizons blog features news and insights about the latest discoveries and innovations developed by the scientists of Cincinnati Children's. This blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.