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Eur J Biochem. 2000 Mar;267(6):1598-606.

A diminished activation capacity of the interferon-inducible protein kinase PKR in human T lymphocytes.

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Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


The double-stranded (ds) RNA activated protein kinase PKR is an interferon (IFN)-inducible serine/threonine protein that regulates protein synthesis through the phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of translation initiation factor 2 (eIF-2alpha). PKR activation in cells is induced by virus infection or treatment with dsRNA and is modulated by a number of viral and cellular factors. To better understand the mechanisms of PKR action we have analyzed and compared the mode of PKR activation in a number of cell lines of different histological origin. Here we show that PKR activation and phosphorylation of eIF-2alpha are both diminished in various virus-transformed and nontransformed human T cells. Priming of T cells with IFN does not restore PKR activation. In vitro kinase assays show that the diminished PKR activation in T cells correlates with the presence of a 60-kDa (p60) phosphoprotein coimmunoprecipitated with PKR. P60 is absent from PKR immunoprecipitates from non T cells. Incubation of active PKR with T cell extracts results in inhibition of PKR autophosphorylation, which is proportional to the amount of phosphorylated p60 in the kinase reactions. Treatment of T cells with proteasome inhibitors or incubation of PKR immunoprecipitates with phosphatase inhibitors does not restore PKR activation. However, phosphorylation of p60 is enhanced upon treatment with the phosphatase inhibitor microcystin. These data show that the impaired activation capacity of PKR in human T cells is exerted at the post-translational levels in a manner that is independent of cell transformation or virus infection.

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