PACT and PKR: Turning on NF-κB in the Absence of Virus

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Science's STKE  03 Jul 2001:
Vol. 2001, Issue 89, pp. re1
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2001.89.re1

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Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-dependent protein kinase R (PKR) has been generally thought to be solely regulated by dsRNA, an intermediate in the replication of many viruses. However, the notion that PKR acts solely as a sensor for viral infection has been challenged by recent findings that alteration of PKR activity has effects on cellular growth and by the discovery of a virus-independent activator of PKR, a cellular protein called PACT (PKR-activating protein). The activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) by PKR has been shown to account for the host antiviral response. We summarize the most recent findings on the molecular mechanisms leading to the activation of NF-κB by PKR and discuss three major unanswered questions. First, is PACT an alternative to dsRNA as a direct activator of the PKR-NF-κB pathway? Second, how is PACT itself activated and targeted to PKR? And third, what are the biological functions of PKR in the absence of viral infection?

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