AMP-activated protein kinase and energy balance in breast cancer

Hong Zhao*, Yelda C. Orhan, Xiaoming Zha, Ecem Esencan, Robert T. Chatterton, Serdar E. Bulun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Cancer growth and metastasis depends on the availability of energy. Energy-sensing systems are critical in maintaining a balance between the energy supply and utilization of energy for tumor growth. A central regulator in this process is AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). In times of energy deficit, AMPK is allosterically modified by the binding of increased levels of AMP and ADP, making it a target of specific AMPK kinases (AMPKKs). AMPK signaling prompts cells to produce energy at the expense of growth and motility, opposing the actions of insulin and growth factors. Increasing AMPK activity may thus prevent the proliferation and metastasis of tumor cells. Activated AMPK also suppresses aromatase, which lowers estrogen formation and prevents breast cancer growth. Biguanides can be used to activate AMPK, but AMPK activity is modified by many different interacting factors; understanding these factors is important in order to control the abnormal growth processes that lead to breast cancer neoplasia. Fatty acids, estrogens, androgens, adipokines, and another energy sensor, sirtuin-1, alter the phosphorylation and activation of AMPK. Isoforms of AMPK differ among tissues and may serve specific functions. Targeting AMPK regulatory processes at points other than the upstream AMPKKs may provide additional approaches for prevention of breast cancer neoplasia, growth, and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberAJTR0038853
Pages (from-to)197-213
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Translational Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • AMP-dependent protein kinase
  • Biguanides
  • Breast cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cancer Research


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