Skeletal muscle AMPK is essential for the maintenance of FNDC5 expression
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Fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5 (FNDC5) expression is controlled by the transcriptional co-activator, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, coactivator 1 alpha (PGC1α). FNDC5 expression has been shown to be increased in muscle in response to endurance exercise in some but not all studies, therefore a greater understanding of the mechanisms controlling this process are needed. The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is activated by exercise in an intensity dependent manner and is an important regulator of PGC1α activity; therefore, we explored the role of AMPK in the regulation of FNDC5 using AMPK β1β2 double muscle-null mice (AMPK DMKO), which lack skeletal muscle AMPK activity. We found that FNDC5 expression is dramatically reduced in resting muscles of AMPK DMKO mice compared to wild-type littermates. In wild-type mice, activating phosphorylation of AMPK was elevated immediately post contraction and was abolished in muscle from AMPK DMKO mice. In contrast, PGC1α was increased in both wild-type and AMPK DMKO mice 3 h post contraction but FNDC5 protein expression was not altered. Lastly, acute or chronic activation of AMPK with the pharmacological AMPK activator AICAR did not increase PGC1α or FNDC5 expression in muscle. These data indicate that skeletal muscle AMPK is required for the maintenance of basal FNDC5 expression.