Melanocortin-induced PKA activation inhibits AMPK activity via ERK-1/2 and LKB-1 in hypothalamic GT1-7 cells

Mol Endocrinol. 2012 Apr;26(4):643-54. doi: 10.1210/me.2011-1218. Epub 2012 Feb 23.


α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH)-induced activation of the melanocortin-4 receptor in hypothalamic neurons increases energy expenditure and inhibits food intake. Active hypothalamic AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) has recently been reported to enhance food intake, and in vivo experiments suggested that intrahypothalamic injection of melanocortins decreased food intake due to the inhibition of AMPK activity. However, it is not clear whether α-MSH affects AMPK via direct intracellular signaling cascades or if the release of paracrine factors is involved. Here, we used a murine, hypothalamic cell line (GT1-7 cells) and monitored AMPK phosphorylation at Thr(172), which has been suggested to increase AMPK activity. We found that α-MSH dephosphorylated AMPK at Thr(172) and consequently decreased phosphorylation of the established AMPK substrate acetyl-coenzyme A-carboxylase at Ser(79). Inhibitory effects of α-MSH on AMPK were blocked by specific inhibitors of protein kinase A (PKA) or ERK-1/2, pointing to an important role of both kinases in this process. Because α-MSH-induced activation of ERK-1/2 was blunted by PKA inhibitors, we propose that ERK-1/2 serves as a link between PKA and AMPK in GT1-7 cells. Furthermore, down-regulation of liver kinase B-1, but not inhibition of calcium-calmodulin-dependent kinase kinase-β or TGFβ-activated kinase-1 decreased basal phosphorylation of AMPK and its dephosphorylation induced by α-MSH. Thus, we propose that α-MSH inhibits AMPK activity via a linear pathway, including PKA, ERK-1/2, and liver kinase B-1 in GT1-7 cells. Given the importance of the melanocortin system in the formation of adipositas, detailed knowledge about this pathway might help to develop drugs targeting obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenylate Kinase / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / cytology*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System*
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • alpha-MSH / physiology*


  • alpha-MSH
  • Stk11 protein, mouse
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Adenylate Kinase
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs