The 5′-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a master regulator of cellular homeostasis. Despite AMPK's known function in physiology, its role in pathological processes such as prostate cancer is enigmatic. However, emerging evidence is now beginning to decode the paradoxical role of AMPK in cancer and, therefore, inform clinicians if-and how-AMPK could be therapeutically targeted. Spatiotemporal regulation of AMPK complexes could be one of the mechanisms that governs this kinase's role in cancer. We hypothesize that different upstream stimuli will activate select subcellular AMPK complexes. This hypothesis is supported by the distinct subcellular locations of the various AMPK subunits. Each of these unique AMPK complexes regulates discrete downstream processes that can be tumour suppressive or oncogenic. AMPK's final biological output is then determined by the weighted net function of these downstream signalling events, influenced by additional prostate-specific signalling.
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