Coordinated activation of AMP-activated protein kinase, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, and autophagy regulates phorbol myristate acetate-induced differentiation of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells
Harhaji-Trajković, Ljubica M.
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We explored the interplay between the intracellular energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and autophagy in phorbol myristate acetate (PMA)-induced neuronal differentiation of SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells. PMA-triggered expression of neuronal markers (dopamine transporter, microtubule-associated protein 2, -tubulin) was associated with an autophagic response, measured by the conversion of microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3)-I to autophagosome-bound LC3-II, increase in autophagic flux, and expression of autophagy-related (Atg) proteins Atg7 and beclin-1. This coincided with the transient activation of AMPK and sustained activation of ERK. Pharmacological inhibition or RNA interference-mediated silencing of AMPK suppressed PMA-induced expression of neuronal markers, as well as ERK activation and autophagy. A selective pharmacological blockade of ERK prevented PMA-induced neuronal differentiation and autophagy induction without affecting AMPK phosphorylation. Conversely, the inhibition of autophagy downstream of AMPK/ERK, either by pharmacological agents or LC3 knockdown, promoted the expression of neuronal markers, thus indicating a role of autophagy in the suppression of PMA-induced differentiation of SH-SY5Y cells. Therefore, PMA-induced neuronal differentiation of SH-SY5Y cells depends on a complex interplay between AMPK, ERK, and autophagy, in which the stimulatory effects of AMPK/ERK signaling are counteracted by the coinciding autophagic response.