Activation of the Antiviral Kinase PKR and Viral Countermeasures

Viruses. 2009 Dec;1(3):523-44. doi: 10.3390/v1030523. Epub 2009 Oct 27.


The interferon-induced double-stranded (ds)RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) limits viral replication by an eIF2α-mediated block of translation. Although many negative-strand RNA viruses activate PKR, the responsible RNAs have long remained elusive, as dsRNA, the canonical activator of PKR, has not been detected in cells infected with such viruses. In this review we focus on the activating RNA molecules of different virus families, in particular the negative-strand RNA viruses. We discuss the recently identified non-canonical activators 5'-triphosphate RNA and the vRNP of influenza virus and give an update on strategies of selected RNA and DNA viruses to prevent activation of PKR.

Keywords: PKR; dsRNA; immune evasion; innate immunity; virus.