PKR and TLR3 trigger distinct signals that coordinate the induction of antiviral apoptosis

Cell Death Dis. 2022 Aug 15;13(8):707. doi: 10.1038/s41419-022-05101-3.


RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs), protein kinase R (PKR), and endosomal Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) sense viral non-self RNA and are involved in cell fate determination. However, the mechanisms by which intracellular RNA induces apoptosis, particularly the role of each RNA sensor, remain unclear. We performed cytoplasmic injections of different types of RNA and elucidated the molecular mechanisms underlying viral dsRNA-induced apoptosis. The results obtained revealed that short 5'-triphosphate dsRNA, the sole ligand of RIG-I, induced slow apoptosis in a fraction of cells depending on IRF-3 transcriptional activity and IFN-I production. However, intracellular long dsRNA was sensed by PKR and TLR3, which activate distinct signals, and synergistically induced rapid apoptosis. PKR essentially induced translational arrest, resulting in reduced levels of cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein and functioned in the TLR3/TRIF-dependent activation of caspase 8. The present results demonstrated that PKR and TLR3 were both essential for inducing the viral RNA-mediated apoptosis of infected cells and the arrest of viral production.

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents* / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis
  • Interferon-beta / genetics
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptor 3* / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 3* / metabolism
  • eIF-2 Kinase / genetics
  • eIF-2 Kinase / metabolism


  • Antiviral Agents
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Viral
  • Toll-Like Receptor 3
  • Interferon-beta
  • eIF-2 Kinase