Protein kinase PKR mediates the apoptosis induction and growth restriction phenotypes of C protein-deficient measles virus

Ann M. Toth, Patricia Devaux, Roberto Cattaneo, Charles E. Samuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The measles virus (MV) accessory proteins V and C play important roles in MV replication and pathogenesis. Infection with recombinant MV lacking either V or C causes more cell death than infection with the parental vaccine-equivalent virus (MVvac), and C-deficient virus grows poorly relative to the parental virus. Here, we show that a major effector of the C phenotype is the RNA-dependent protein kinase PKR. Using human HeLa cells stably deficient in PKR as a result of RNA interference-mediated knockdown (PKRkd cells), we demonstrated that a reduction in PKR partially rescued the growth defect of C knockout (Cko) virus but had no effect on the growth of either wild-type (WT) or V knockout (Vko) virus. Increased growth of the Cko virus in PKRkd cells correlated with increased viral protein expression, while defective growth and decreased protein expression in PKR-sufficient cells correlated with increased phosphorylation of PKR and the α subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2. Furthermore, infection with WT, Vko, or especially Cko virus caused significantly less apoptosis in PKR kd cells than in PKR-sufficient cells. Although apoptosis induced by Cko virus infection in PKR-sufficient cells was blocked by a caspase antagonist, the growth of Cko virus was not restored to the WT level by treatment with this pharmacologic inhibitor. Taken together, these results indicate that PKR plays an important antiviral role during MV infection but that the virus growth restriction by PKR is not dependent upon the induction of apoptosis. Furthermore, the results establish that a principal function of the MV C protein is to antagonize the proapoptotic and antiviral activities of PKR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-968
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


Dive into the research topics of 'Protein kinase PKR mediates the apoptosis induction and growth restriction phenotypes of C protein-deficient measles virus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this