Essential role for the dsRNA-dependent protein kinase PKR in innate immunity to viral infection

Immunity. 2000 Jul;13(1):129-41. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7613(00)00014-5.


The double-stranded (ds) RNA-dependent protein kinase PKR is considered to play an important role in interferon's (IFN's) response to viral infection. Here, we demonstrate that mice lacking PKR are predisposed to lethal intranasal infection by the usually innocuous vesicular stomatitis virus, and also display increased susceptibility to influenza virus infection. Our data indicate that in normal cells, PKR primarily prevents virus replication by inhibiting the translation of viral mRNAs through phosphorylation of eIF2alpha, while concomitantly assisting in the production of autocrine IFN and the establishment of an antiviral state. These results show that PKR is an essential component of innate immunity that acts early in host defense prior to the onset of IFN counteraction and the acquired immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Caspase 9
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • Dogs
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2 / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Orthomyxoviridae / immunology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Rhabdoviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / immunology*
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / physiology
  • Virus Replication
  • eIF-2 Kinase / genetics
  • eIF-2 Kinase / immunology*


  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2
  • eIF-2 Kinase
  • Casp9 protein, mouse
  • Caspase 9
  • Caspases