Molecular Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 154–166 | Cite as

Protein-Binding Function of RNA-Dependent Protein Kinase Promotes Proliferation through TRAF2/RIP1/NF-κB/c-Myc Pathway in Pancreatic β cells

  • LiLi Gao
  • Wei Tang
  • ZhengZheng Ding
  • DingYu Wang
  • XiaoQiang Qi
  • HuiWen Wu
  • Jun Guo
Research Article


Double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR), an intracellular pathogen recognition receptor, is involved both in insulin resistance in peripheral tissues and in downregulation of pancreatic β-cell function in a kinase-dependent manner, indicating PKR as a core component in the progression of type 2 diabetes. PKR also acts as an adaptor protein via its protein-binding domain. Here, the PKR protein-binding function promoted β-cell proliferation without its kinase activity, which is associated with enhanced physical interaction with tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 2 (TRAF2) and TRAF6. In addition, the transcription of the nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cell (NF-κB)-dependent survival gene c-Myc was upregulated significantly and is necessary for proliferation. Upregulation of the PKR protein-binding function induced the NF-κB pathway, as observed by dose-dependent degradation of IκBα, induced nuclear translocation of p65 and elevated NF-κB-dependent reporter gene expression. NF-κB-dependent reporter activity and β-cell proliferation both were suppressed by TRAF2-siRNA, but not by TRAF6-siRNA. TRAF2-siRNA blocked the ubiquitination of receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (RIP1) induced by PKR protein binding. Furthermore, R/P1-siRNA inhibited β-cell proliferation. Proinflammatory cytokines (TNFα) and glucolipitoxicity also promoted the physical interaction of PKR with TRAF2. Collectively, these data indicate a pivotal role for PKR’s protein-binding function on the proliferation of pancreatic β cells through TRAF2/RIP1/NF-κB/c-Myc pathways. Therapeutic opportunities for type 2 diabetes may arise when its kinase catalytic function, but not its protein-binding function, is downregulated.



We thank Charles Tom Dever for providing plasmids encoding PKR-K296R, GyrB-PKR, GyrB-PKR-K296H and pSG5. The work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 81170714), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20131110) and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • LiLi Gao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wei Tang
    • 3
  • ZhengZheng Ding
    • 1
    • 2
  • DingYu Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • XiaoQiang Qi
    • 1
    • 2
  • HuiWen Wu
    • 4
  • Jun Guo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Human Functional Genomics of Jiangsu ProvinceNanjing Medical UniversityNanjingRepublic of China
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyNanjing Medical UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of EndocrinologyThe Affiliated Jiangyin Hospital of Southeast University Medical CollegeJiangyinPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Laboratory Center for Basic Medical SciencesNanjing Medical UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Human Functional Genomics of Jiangsu Province, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyNanjing Medical UniversityNanjingRepublic of China

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