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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Jul 5;91(14):6288-92.

Double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase activates transcription factor NF-kappa B by phosphorylating I kappa B.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Biology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, OH 44195.


The induction of interferon (IFN) genes by viruses or double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) requires the assembly of a complex set of transcription factors on responsive DNA elements of IFN gene promoters. One of the factors necessary for regulating IFN-beta gene transcription is nuclear factor NF-kappa B, the activation of which is triggered by dsRNA. It has previously been suggested that the dsRNA-activated p68 protein kinase (PKR) may act as an inducer-receptor, transducing the signal from dsRNA to NF-kappa B through phosphorylation of the inhibitor I kappa B. We present direct evidence that PKR can phosphorylate I kappa B-alpha (MAD-3) and activate NF-kappa B DNA binding activity in vitro. We further show that dsRNA induces an unusual phosphorylated form of I kappa B-alpha. The expression of a transdominant mutant PKR is able to perturb the dsRNA-mediated signaling pathway in vivo, suggesting a role for this kinase in IFN-beta gene induction.

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