AMP-activated Protein Kinase Suppresses Biosynthesis of Glucosylceramide by Reducing Intracellular Sugar Nucleotides [Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices]

June 5th, 2015 by Ishibashi, Y., Hirabayashi, Y.

The membrane glycolipid glucosylceramide (GlcCer) plays a critical role in cellular homeostasis. Its intracellular levels are thought to be tightly regulated. How cells regulate GlcCer levels remains to be clarified. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is a crucial cellular energy sensor, regulates glucose and lipid metabolism to maintain energy homeostasis. Here, we investigated whether AMPK affects GlcCer metabolism. AMPK activators (AICAR and metformin) decreased intracellular GlcCer levels and synthase activity in mouse fibroblasts. AMPK inhibitors or AMPK siRNA reversed these effects, suggesting that GlcCer synthesis is negatively regulated by an AMPK-dependent mechanism. Although AMPK did not affect the phosphorylation or expression of GlcCer synthase protein, the amount of UDP-glucose, an activated form of glucose required for GlcCer synthesis, decreased under AMPK-activating conditions. Importantly, the UDP-glucose pyrophosphatase Nudt14, which degrades UDP-glucose generating UMP and glucose-1-phosphate, was phosphorylated and activated by AMPK. On the other hand, suppression of Nudt14 by siRNA had little effect on UDP-glucose levels, indicating that mammalian cells have an alternative UDP-glucose pyrophosphatase that mainly contributes to the reduction of UDP-glucose under AMPK-activating conditions. Since AMPK activators are capable of reducing GlcCer levels in cells from Gaucher disease patients, our findings suggest that reducing GlcCer through AMPK activation may lead to a new strategy for treating diseases caused by abnormal accumulation of GlcCer.
  • Posted in Journal of Biological Chemistry, Publications
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