Knockdown of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Alpha 1 and Alpha 2 Catalytic Subunits

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AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a master metabolic regulator that responds to the AMP: ATP ratio and promotes ATP production when the cell is low on energy. There are two isoforms of the catalytic alpha subunit, AMPKα1 and AMPKα2. Here, we describe the production of a small interfering RNA (siRNA) and a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) targeting both catalytic isoforms of AMPK in human, mouse, and rat. Multiple loop sequences were tested to generate the most effective shRNA. The shRNA causes significant knockdown of both isoforms of AMPKα in mouse and human cells. The shRNA effectively knocked down AMPKα1 and AMPKα2 protein levels, compared to a five basepair mismatch-control shRNA in mouse fibroblast NIH3T3 cells and significantly knocked down AMPKα1 (63%) and AMPKα2 (72%) levels compared to control in human embryonic kidney cells, HEK293s. The shRNA also causes a significant reduction in AMPK activity, measured as phosphorylation of acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), a direct phosphorylation target. While the protein levels of total ACC remained the same between the AMPKα1 and α2 shRNA and control shRNA-treated cells, there was a 41% reduction in phospho-ACC protein levels. The generation of this AMPKα1 and α2 shRNA can be used to stably knock down protein levels and activity of both catalytic isoforms of AMPK in different species to assess function.