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 (5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide 1-β-D-ribofuranoside and metformin) decreased intracellular GlcCer levels and synthase activity in mouse fibro-blasts. 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, 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 UDPglucose pyrophosphatase that mainly contributes to the reduction of UDP-glucose under AMPK-activating conditions. Because 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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology