Saha – Biochemistry/Physiology

Asish Saha
Options: Potential for UROP Funding, Potential for Academic Credit

AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a fuel sensing enzyme that has classically been defined in terms of its role in restoring ATP levels in energy depleted cells. In skeletal muscle, AMPK is typically activated by such factors such as glucose deprivation and contraction (exercise). The activated AMPK in turn enhances processes that generate ATP such as fatty acid oxidation and glucose transport and downregulates other processes that consume ATP but can be diminished temporarily without jeopardizing the cell (eg protein and lipid synthesis). Much less studied is the notion that a decrease in AMPK below baseline values may also be a physiologically or pathophysiologically relevant event.
The principal objective of our research has been two fold: (1) to determine how AMPK is regulated in mammalian tissues and cultured cells and (2) to define conditions under which AMPK activity is downregulated. We have established that exercise activates AMPK and enzymes of lipid metabolism in various tissues in rodents. In addition, We have shown that AMPK activity is diminished in numerous rodents with insulin resistance and that AMPK activation prevents or reverses this.