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Eur J Biochem. 1987 Sep 15;167(3):467-73.

The double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase is also activated by heparin.

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Institut Pasteur, Unité d'Oncologie Virale, Paris, France.


The double-stranded(ds)-RNA dependent protein kinase from human cells is a Mr 68,000 protein (p68 kinase), the level of which is enhanced significantly in cells treated with interferon. When activated by dsRNA, the p68 kinase becomes autophosphorylated. The phosphorylated p68 kinase then can catalyze the phosphorylation of exogenous substrates, such as eIF2 and histone. The second phosphorylation step can take place in the absence of dsRNA. Here we show that, besides dsRNA other polyanions, especially heparin, can also activate the p68 kinase for the autophosphorylation reaction. Heparin activation of the p68 kinase is reversible since it can be prevented by addition of antithrombin III, heparin-binding protein. However, when antithrombin III is added after autophosphorylation of the p68 kinase then phosphorylation of histone is not affected. The p68 kinase binds to heparin-Sepharose. Further evidence that the p68 kinase can be activated by heparin was provided by photoaffinity labeling with 8-azido-[alpha-32P]ATP. This ATP analog can bind to the p68 kinase only in the presence of heparin or dsRNA. Thus suggesting that the activation of the p68 kinase triggers a conformational modification allowing the binding of ATP. Basic proteins, histone and protamine, prevent the activation process induced by heparin. This is probably due to binding of these basic proteins to heparin and thus sequestering the activator of the protein kinase.

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