The PRKAA1 gene encodes the catalytic α-subunit of 5′ AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK is a cellular energy sensor that maintains energy homeostasis within the cell and is activated when the AMP/ATP ratio increases. When activated, AMPK increases catabolic processes that increase ATP synthesis and inhibit anabolic processes that require ATP. Additionally, AMPK also plays a role in activating autophagy and inhibiting energy consuming processes, such as cellular growth and proliferation. Due to its role in energy metabolism, it could act as a potential target of many therapeutic drugs that could be useful in the treatment of several diseases, for example, diabetes. Moreover, AMPK has been shown to be involved in inhibiting tumour growth and metastasis, and has also been implicated in the pathology of neurodegenerative and cardiac disorders. Hence, a better understanding of AMPK and its role in various pathological conditions could enable the development of strategies to use it as a therapeutic target.
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