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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 May 10;91(10):4278-82.

The 58-kilodalton inhibitor of the interferon-induced double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase is a tetratricopeptide repeat protein with oncogenic properties.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


The interferon-induced RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) is considered to play an important role in the cellular defense against viral infection and, in addition, has been suggested to be a tumor suppressor gene because of its growth-suppressive properties. Activation of PKR by double-stranded RNAs leads to the phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF-2 alpha) and a resultant block to protein synthesis initiation. To avoid the consequences of kinase activation, many viruses have developed strategies to down-regulate PKR. Recently, we reported on the purification and characterization of a cellular inhibitor of PKR (referred to as p58), which is activated during influenza virus infection. Subsequent cloning and sequencing has revealed that p58 is a member of the tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) family of proteins. To further examine the physiological role of this PKR inhibitor, we stably transfected NIH 3T3 cells with a eukaryotic expression plasmid containing p58 cDNA under control of the cytomegalovirus early promoter. By taking advantage of a recently characterized p58 species-specific monoclonal antibody, we isolated cell lines that overexpressed p58. These cells exhibited a transformed phenotype, growing at faster rates and higher saturation densities and exhibiting anchorage-independent growth. Most importantly, inoculation of nude mice with p58-overexpressing cells gave rise to the production of tumors. Finally, murine PKR activity and endogenous levels of eIF-2 alpha phosphorylation were reduced in the p58-expressing cell lines compared with control cells. These data, taken together, suggest that p58 functions as an oncogene and that one mechanism by which the protein induces malignant transformation is through the down-regulation of PKR and subsequent deregulation of protein synthesis.

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