PerspectiveCell Biology

Ancient Sensor for Ancient Drug

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Science  18 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6083, pp. 813-814
DOI: 10.1126/science.1223140

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Salicylate, a compound found in willow tree bark, is the active breakdown product of aspirin, and has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. However, the molecular mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of salicylate has been unclear. On page 918 of this issue, Hawley et al. (1) show that salicylate activates the cellular metabolic regulator adenosine monophosphate (AMP)–activated protein kinase (AMPK), which stimulates fat utilization in mice.