AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Regulates E3 Ligases in Rodent Heart
Rationale: The degradation of proteins by the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) is required for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis in the heart. An important regulator of metabolic homeostasis is AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK activation inhibits protein synthesis and activates autophagy, but whether AMPK plays a role in regulating protein breakdown through the UPS in the heart is not known.
Objective: To determine whether AMPK enhances UPS-mediated protein degradation by directly regulating the ubiquitin ligases Atrogin-1 and muscle RING finger protein 1 (MuRF1) in the heart.
Methods and Results: Nutrient deprivation and pharmacological or genetic activation of AMPK increased mRNA expression and protein levels of Atrogin-1 and MuRF1 and consequently enhanced protein degradation in neonatal cardiomyocytes. Inhibition of AMPK abrogated these effects. Using gene reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we found that AMPK regulates MuRF1 expression by acting through the myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2). We further validated these findings in vivo using MEF2-LacZ reporter mice. Furthermore, we demonstrated in adult cardiomyocytes that MuRF1 is necessary for AMPK-mediated proteolysis through the UPS in the heart. Consequently, MuRF1 knockout mice were protected from severe cardiac dysfunction during fasting.
Conclusions: AMPK regulates the transcription of Atrogin-1 and MuRF1 and enhances UPS-mediated protein degradation in heart. Specifically, AMPK regulates MuRF1 through the transcription factor MEF2. The absence of MuRF1 in the heart preserves cardiac function during fasting. The results strengthen the hypothesis that AMPK serves as a modulator of intracellular protein degradation in the heart.
- Received July 14, 2011.
- Revision received September 6, 2011.
- Accepted September 7, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.