The SNF1 (sucrose non-fermenting 1)-related protein kinases 1 (SnRKs1) are the plant orthologs of the budding yeast SNF1 and mammalian AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase). These evolutionarily conserved kinases are metabolic sensors that undergo activation in response to declining energy levels. Upon activation, SNF1/AMPK/SnRK1 kinases trigger a vast transcriptional and metabolic reprograming that restores energy homeostasis and promotes tolerance to adverse conditions, partly through an induction of catabolic processes and a general repression of anabolism. These kinases typically function as a heterotrimeric complex composed of two regulatory subunits, β and γ, and an α-catalytic subunit, which requires phosphorylation of a conserved activation loop residue for activity. Additionally, SNF1/AMPK/SnRK1 kinases are controlled by multiple mechanisms that have an impact on kinase activity, stability, and/or subcellular localization. Here we will review current knowledge on the regulation of SNF1/AMPK/SnRK1 by upstream components, post-translational modifications, various metabolites, hormones, and others, in an attempt to highlight both the commonalities of these essential eukaryotic kinases and the divergences that have evolved to cope with the particularities of each one of these systems.
Keywords: AMPK; Arabidopsis; SNF1; SnRK1; energy signaling; kinase regulation; stress.