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Protein kinase R (PKR) interacts with and activates mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 6 (MKK6) in response to double-stranded RNA stimulation.

Silva A.M., Whitmore M., Xu Z., Jiang Z., Li X., Williams B.R.

The double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-activated protein kinase R (PKR) has been invoked in different signaling pathways. In cells pre-exposed to the PKR inhibitor 2-aminopurine or in PKR-null cells, the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) following dsRNA stimulation is attenuated. We found that the p38 MAPK activator MKK6, but not its close relatives MKK3 or MKK4, exhibited an increased affinity for PKR following the exposure of cells to poly(rI:rC), a dsRNA analog. In vitro kinase assays revealed that MKK6 was efficiently phosphorylated by PKR, and this could be inhibited by 2-aminopurine. Expression of kinase-inactive PKR (K296R) in cells inhibited the poly(IC)-induced phosphorylation of MKK3/6 detected by phosphospecific antiserum but did not affect the poly(IC)-induced gel migration retardation of MKK3. This suggests that poly(IC)-mediated in vivo activation of MKK6, but not MKK3, is through PKR. Consistent with this observation, PKR was capable of activating MKK6 as assessed in a coupled kinase assay containing the components of the p38 MAPK pathway. Our results indicate that the interaction of MKK6 and PKR provides a mechanism for regulating p38 MAPK activation in response to dsRNA stimulation.

J. Biol. Chem. 279:37670-37676(2004) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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