PloS one

c-Myc and AMPK Control Cellular Energy Levels by Cooperatively Regulating Mitochondrial Structure and Function.

PMID 26230505


The c-Myc (Myc) oncoprotein and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) regulate glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation (Oxphos) although often for different purposes. Because Myc over-expression depletes ATP with the resultant activation of AMPK, we explored the potential co-dependency of and cross-talk between these proteins by comparing the consequences of acute Myc induction in ampk+/+ (WT) and ampk-/- (KO) murine embryo fibroblasts (MEFs). KO MEFs showed a higher basal rate of glycolysis than WT MEFs and an appropriate increase in response to activation of a Myc-estrogen receptor (MycER) fusion protein. However, KO MEFs had a diminished ability to increase Oxphos, mitochondrial mass and reactive oxygen species in response to MycER activation. Other differences between WT and KO MEFs, either in the basal state or following MycER induction, included abnormalities in electron transport chain function, levels of TCA cycle-related oxidoreductases and cytoplasmic and mitochondrial redox states. Transcriptional profiling of pathways pertinent to glycolysis, Oxphos and mitochondrial structure and function also uncovered significant differences between WT and KO MEFs and their response to MycER activation. Finally, an unbiased mass-spectrometry (MS)-based survey capable of quantifying ~40% of all mitochondrial proteins, showed about 15% of them to be AMPK- and/or Myc-dependent in their steady state. Significant differences in the activities of the rate-limiting enzymes pyruvate kinase and pyruvate dehydrogenase, which dictate pyruvate and acetyl coenzyme A abundance, were also differentially responsive to Myc and AMPK and could account for some of the differences in basal metabolite levels that were also detected by MS. Thus, Myc and AMPK are highly co-dependent and appear to engage in significant cross-talk across numerous pathways which support metabolic and ATP-generating functions.