The double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase mediates viral-induced encephalitis.
The double-stranded (ds) RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) plays an important role in control of viral infections and cell growth. We have studied the role of PKR in viral infection in mice that are defective in the PKR signaling pathway. Transgenic mice were derived that constitutively express a trans-dominant-negative kinase-defective mutant PKR under control of the beta-actin promoter. The trans-dominant-negative PKR mutant expressing transgenic mice do not have a detectable phenotype, similar to observations with PKR knock-out mice. The requirement for PKR in viral pathogenesis was studied by intracerebral infection of mice with a mouse-adapted poliovirus. Histopathological analysis revealed diffuse encephalomyelitis with severe inflammatory lesions throughout the central nervous system (CNS) in infected wild-type mice. In contrast, histopathological evaluation of virus-injected trans-dominant-negative PKR transgenic mice as well as PKR knock-out mice yielded no signs of tissue damage associated with inflammatory host responses. However, the virus did replicate in both models of PKR-deficient mice at a level equal to that observed in wild-type infected mice. Although the results indicate a clear difference in susceptibility to poliovirus-induced encephalitis, this difference manifests clinically as a slight delay in fatal neuropathy in trans-dominant-negative PKR transgenic and PKR knock-out animals. Our observations support the finding that viral-induced PKR activation may play a significant role in pathogenesis by mediating the host response to viral CNS infection. They support PKR to be an effective target to control tissue damage due to deleterious host responses to viral infection.
Scheuner, D; Gromeier, M; Davies, MV; Dorner, AJ; Song, B; Patel, RV; Wimmer, EJ; McLendon, RE; Kaufman, RJ
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