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J Virol. 2008 Jul;82(14):6889-901. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02385-07. Epub 2008 Apr 30.

Functional domains and the antiviral effect of the double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase PKR from Paralichthys olivaceus.

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State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072, China.


The double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-dependent protein kinase PKR is thought to mediate a conserved antiviral pathway by inhibiting viral protein synthesis via the phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2alpha). However, little is known about the data related to the lower vertebrates, including fish. Recently, the identification of PKR-like, or PKZ, has addressed the question of whether there is an orthologous PKR in fish. Here, we identify the first fish PKR gene from the Japanese flounder Paralichthys olivaceus (PoPKR). PoPKR encodes a protein that shows a conserved structure that is characteristic of mammalian PKRs, having both the N-terminal region for dsRNA binding and the C-terminal region for the inhibition of protein translation. The catalytic activity of PoPKR is further evidence that it is required for protein translation inhibition in vitro. PoPKR is constitutively transcribed at low levels and is highly induced after virus infection. Strikingly, PoPKR overexpression increases eIF2alpha phosphorylation and inhibits the replication of Scophthalmus maximus rhabdovirus (SMRV) in flounder embryonic cells, whereas phosphorylation and antiviral effects are impaired in transfected cells expressing the catalytically inactive PKR-K421R variant, indicating that PoPKR inhibits virus replication by phosphorylating substrate eIF2alpha. The interaction between PoPKR and eIF2alpha is demonstrated by coimmunoprecipitation assays, and the transfection of PoPKR-specific short interfering RNA further reveals that the enhanced eIF2alpha phosphorylation is catalyzed by PoPKR during SMRV infection. The current data provide significant evidence for the existence of a PKR-mediated antiviral pathway in fish and reveal considerable conservation in the functional domains and the antiviral effect of PKR proteins between fish and mammals.

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