Regulation of innate immunity through RNA structure and the protein kinase PKR

Subba Rao Nallagatla, Rebecca Toroney, Philip C. Bevilacqua

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Molecular recognition of RNA structure is key to innate immunity. The protein kinase PKR differentiates self from non-self by recognition of molecular patterns in RNA. Certain biological RNAs induce autophosphorylation of PKR, activating it to phosphorylate eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α), which leads to inhibition of translation. Additional biological RNAs inhibit PKR, while still others have no effect. The aim of this article is to develop a cohesive framework for understanding and predicting PKR function in the context of diverse RNA structure. We present effects of recently characterized viral and cellular RNAs on regulation of PKR, as well as siRNAs. A central conclusion is that assembly of accessible long double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) elements within biological RNAs plays a key role in regulation of PKR kinase. Strategies for forming such elements include RNA dimerization, formation of symmetrical helical defects, A-form dsRNA mimicry, and coaxial stacking of helices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Structural Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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