Purpose: Activation of the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) leads to the induction of various pathways including the down-regulation of translation through phosphorylation of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF-2α). There have been no reports to date about the role of PKR in radiation sensitivity. Experimental Design: A clonogenic survival assay was used to investigate the sensitivity of PKR mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEF) to radiation therapy. 2-Aminopurine (2-AP), a chemical inhibitor of PKR, was used to inhibit PKR activation. Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation was assessed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). Expression of PKR and downstream targets was examined by Western blot analysis and immunofluorescence. Results: Ionizing radiation leads to dose- and time-dependent increases in PKR expression and function that contributes to increased cellular radiation resistance as shown by clonogenic survival and terminal nucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick end labeling (TUNEL) apoptosis assays. Specific inhibition of PKR with the chemical inhibitor 2-AP restores radiation sensitivity. Plasmid transfection of the PKR wild-type (wt) gene into PKR-/- MEFs leads to increased radiation resistance. The protective effect of PKR to radiation may be mediated in part through NF-κB and Akt because both NF-κB and Akt are activated after ionizing radiation in PKR+/+ but not PKR-/- cells. Conclusions: We suggest a novel role for PKR as a mediator of radiation resistance modulated in part through the protective effects of NF-κB and Akt activation. The modification of PKR activity may be a novel strategy in the future to overcome radiation resistance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research