The RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) is an interferon-induced, RNA-activated enzyme that phosphorylates and inhibits the function of the translation initiation factor eIF-2. PKR has a double-stranded RNA-binding domain (dsRBD) composed of two copies of the dsRNA binding motif (dsRBM). PKR's dsRBD is involved in the regulation of the enzyme as dsRNAs of cellular and viral origins bind to the dsRBD, leading to either activation or inhibition of PKR's kinase activity. In this study, we site-specifically modified each of the dsRBMs of PKR's dsRBD with the hydroxyl radical generator EDTA·Fe and performed cleavage studies on kinase-activating and kinase-inhibiting RNAs. These experiments led to the identification of binding sites for the individual dsRBMs on various RNA ligands including a viral activating RNA (TAR from HIV-1), a viral inhibiting RNA (VAI RNA from adenovirus), an aptamer RNA that activates PKR, and a small synthetic inhibiting RNA. These results indicate that some RNAs interact only with one dsRBM, while others can bind both dsRBMs of PKR. In addition, EDTA·Fe modification coupled with site-directed mutagenesis was used to assess the extent of cooperativity in the binding of the two dsRBMs. These experiments support the hypothesis that simultaneous binding of both dsRBMs of PKR occurs on kinase activating RNA ligands.
ASJC Scopus subject areas