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J Biol Chem. 1995 Feb 17;270(7):3100-6.

Platelet-derived growth factor signal transduction through the interferon-inducible kinase PKR. Immediate early gene induction.

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  • 1Cancer Research Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts 02118.


The interferon-inducible, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-dependent eukaryotic initiation factor-2 alpha kinase PKR has primarily been characterized as a component of the interferon-mediated cellular antiviral response. Several lines of evidence now exist that suggest that PKR plays a role in the regulation of growth in uninfected cells. The most direct examples are the finding of an oncogenic variant of PKR and the effects of activators and inhibitors of PKR phosphorylation on the expression of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-inducible genes. Previous reports have shown that 1) dsRNA, a direct activator of PKR, induces the genes c-myc, c-fos, and JE; 2) 2-aminopurine, a chemical inhibitor of PKR, blocks the induction of these genes by serum; and 3) activated p21ras induces a cellular inhibitor of PKR. We report here that activation of PKR was correlated with the induction of the immediate early genes c-fos, c-myc, and JE by PDGF in the following situations: 1) PDGF induction of these genes, also inducible by dsRNA, was blocked by two inhibitors of PKR activation: 2-aminopurine and v-ras; 2) PDGF induction of another immediate early gene, egr-1, which could not be induced by dsRNA, was not blocked by 2-aminopurine or v-ras; 3) agents that reverse v-ras inhibition of PKR activation also reversed the v-ras block of PDGF induction of c-myc, c-fos, and JE; 4) down-regulation of PKR protein levels by antisense inhibition of translation blocked the induction of c-myc, c-fos, and JE by PDGF, but had no effect on egr-1 induction; and finally, 5) PKR was autophosphorylated in vivo in response to PDGF. These results provide direct evidence that PKR activation functions as a second messenger in a growth factor signal transduction pathway. Thus, PKR may serve as a common mediator of growth-promoting and growth inhibitory signals.

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