AMP-activated protein kinase negatively regulates FcεRI-mediated mast cell signaling and anaphylaxis in mice

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Sep;132(3):729-736.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.02.018. Epub 2013 Apr 12.


Background: Aggregation of FcεRI activates a cascade of signaling events leading to mast cell activation, followed by inhibitory signals that turn off the activating signals. However, the overall view of negative signals in mast cells is still incomplete. Although AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is generally known as a regulator of energy metabolism, is also associated with anti-inflammation, little is known about the role of AMPK in mast cells.

Objectives: We investigated the role of AMPK and its regulatory mechanism in mast cells.

Method: The roles of AMPK in FcεRI-dependent activation of bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMCs) were evaluated by using chemical agents, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), or adenovirus that modulated the activity or expression of AMPK signaling components. In addition, AMPKα2(-/-) mice were used to verify the role of AMPK in anaphylactic models.

Results: FcεRI signaling and associated effector functions in BMMCs were suppressed by the AMPK activator 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-4-ribofuranoside (AICAR) and were conversely augmented by siRNA knockdown of AMPKα2 or liver kinase B1 (LKB1), an upstream kinase of AMPK. Furthermore, AMPKα2 deficiency led to increased FcεRI-mediated BMMC activation and anaphylaxis that were insensitive to AICAR, whereas enforced expression of AMPKα2 in AMPKα2(-/-) BMMCs reversed the hypersensitive FcεRI signaling to normal levels. Pharmacologic inhibition or siRNA knockdown of Fyn mimicked AMPK activation, suggesting that Fyn counterregulates the LKB1-AMPK axis. Mechanistically, Fyn controlled AMPK activity by regulating LKB1 localization.

Conclusions: The Fyn-regulated LKB1-AMPK axis acts as a novel inhibitory module for mast cell activation, which points to AMPK activators as therapeutic drugs for allergic diseases.

Keywords: ACC; AICAR; AMP-activated protein kinase; AMPK; Acetyl-CoA carboxylase; Activator 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-4-ribofuranoside; BMMC; Bone marrow–derived mast cell; CA-AMPK; Catalytically active AMPKα2; ERK; Extracellular signal-regulated kinase; Fyn; GRB2-associated-binding protein 2; Gab2; HSA; Human serum albumin; IKK; IκB kinase; JNK; LKB1; LTC(4); Leukotriene C(4); Liver kinase B1; MAPK; Mammalian target of rapamycin; Mast cell; Mitogen-activated protein kinase; NF-κB; Nuclear factor κB; PCA; PGD(2); PLCγ; PSA; Passive cutaneous anaphylaxis; Passive systemic anaphylaxis; Phospholipase Cγ; Prostaglandin D(2); Small interfering RNA; Spleen tyrosine kinase; Syk; WT; Wild-type; anaphylaxis; c-Jun N-terminal kinase; liver kinase B1; mTOR; siRNA; β-Hex; β-Hexosaminidase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / immunology*
  • Anaphylaxis / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / immunology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fyn / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fyn / immunology
  • Receptors, IgE / immunology*


  • Receptors, IgE
  • Fyn protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fyn
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Stk11 protein, mouse
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases