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Eur J Biochem. 1991 Jan 1;195(1):41-8.

Activation of the double-stranded RNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase by cellular RNA from 3T3-F442A cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, State University of New York Health Science Center, Syracuse 13210.


The interferon induced double-stranded-RNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase has an established role in mediating part of interferons anti-viral effects. Several studies have suggested that it may have additional functions in cells not infected with virus. The mechanism of activation of the kinase and the consequences of its activity in uninfected cells remain to be determined. Our previous results have indicated that the activation (phosphorylation) of this kinase may be an important regulatory signal to the arrest of growth of mouse 3T3-F442A fibroblasts and their subsequent differentiation to adipocytes. We have found that the phosphorylation of the kinase occurred in vivo in the absence of viral infection and in vitro without the addition of dsRNA. We demonstrate here that total cytoplasmic RNA from 3T3-F442A cells contains a regulatory RNA(s) capable of activating dsRNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase. Fractionation of the cytoplasmic RNA by oligo(dT)-cellulose indicated that the regulatory RNA eluted with the poly(A)-rich RNA fraction. It bound tightly to the dsRNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase and was immune-precipitated with its antibodies as a complex of regulatory RNA and dsRNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase. The regulatory RNA activity was further purified by phenol extraction of immune precipitates containing this complex. These findings indicated that the regulatory RNA forms a specific complex with the dsRNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase. The activity of the regulatory RNA was sensitive to the dsRNA-specific RNase VI but not to proteinase K, DNase I or ssRNA-specific RNase T1. The activation of the dsRNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase by regulatory RNA was prevented by addition of a high concentration of poly(I).poly(C). The regulatory RNA was also shown to activate partially purified dsRNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase prepared from rabbit reticulocyte lysates and to inhibit protein synthesis in reticulocyte lysates. Our findings, that cellular RNAs can specifically activate the dsRNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase, are consistent with a physiological role for the dsRNA-dependent eIF-2 alpha kinase and interferon during cell growth and differentiation. The relationship of the regulatory RNA activity to growth and differentiation of 3T3-F442A cells is discussed.

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