Date of Completion

Spring 5-10-2009

Thesis Advisor(s)

James Cole

Honors Major



Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Biophysics | Cell Biology | Molecular Biology | Structural Biology


Protein Kinase R (PKR) is induced by interferon and activated by dsRNA. Subsequent autophosphorylation and phosphorylation of eIF2alpha inhibits viral replication. In the latent state PKR exists as an unphosphorylated monomer. Work in the Cole laboratory has shown two additional states, a phosphorylated monomeric state (pPKRm) and a phosphorylated dimeric state (pPKRd). RNA serves as a scaffold bringing two PKRs together allowing dimerization and autophosphorylation to occur. The contribution of each state to the function of PKR remains unclear. Western blots were performed to examine the phosphorylation states of the essential residues,

T446 and T451. Activity assays have shown activation of pPKRm at a level comparable to pPKRd in its ability to phosphorylate eIF2alpha. Phosphorylation of eIF2alpha by both pPKRm and pPKRd was shown to be RNA independent. Despite reaching similar terminal levels of eIF2alpha phosphorylation, kinetic measurements revealed a faster reaction from pPKRd. Therefore, pPKRm and pPKRd may both contribute to the activity of PKR.