The activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and phosphorylation/inhibition of acetyl-CoA carboxylase 2 (ACC2) is believed to be the principal pathway regulating fatty acid oxidation. However, during exercise AMPK activity and ACC Ser-221 phosphorylation does not always correlate with rates of fatty acid oxidation. To address this issue we have investigated the requirement for skeletal muscle AMPK in controlling aminoimidazole-4-carboxymide-1-β-d-ribofuranoside (AICAR) and contraction-stimulated fatty acid oxidation utilizing transgenic mice expressing a muscle-specific kinase dead (KD) AMPK α2. In wild-type (WT) mice, AICAR and contraction increased AMPK α2 and α1 activities, the phosphorylation of ACC2 and rates of fatty acid oxidation while tending to reduce malonyl-CoA levels. Despite no activation of AMPK in KD mice, ACC2 phosphorylation was maintained, malonyl-CoA levels were reduced and rates of fatty acid oxidation were comparable between genotypes. During treadmill exercise both KD and WT mice had similar values of respiratory exchange ratio. These studies suggested the presence of an alternative ACC2 kinase(s). Using a phosphoproteomics-based approach we identified 18 Ser/Thr protein kinases whose phosphorylation was increased by greater than 25% in contracted KD relative to WT muscle. Utilizing bioinformatics we predicted that extracellular regulated protein-serine kinase (ERK1/2), inhibitor of nuclear factor (NF)-κB protein-serine kinase β (IKKβ) and protein kinase D (PKD) may phosphorylate ACC2 at Ser-221 but during in vitro phosphorylation assays only AMPK phosphorylated ACC2. These data demonstrate that AMPK is not essential for the regulation of fatty acid oxidation by AICAR or muscle contraction
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