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Background: AMPK is responsible for the regulation of fatty acid synthesis by phosphorylation of acetyl-CoA carboxylase. It also regulates cholesterol synthesis via phosphorylation and inactivation of hormone-sensitive lipase and hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase. It appears to act as a metabolic stress-sensing protein kinase switching off biosynthetic pathways when cellular ATP levels are depleted and when 5'-AMP rises in response to fuel limitation and/or hypoxia. AMPK alpha1, a member of the Ser/Thr protein kinase family, is a catalytic subunit of AMPK.