Multiple forms of PKR present in the nuclei of acute leukemia cells represent an active kinase that is responsive to stress

W. L. Blalock, A. Bavelloni, M. Piazzi, F. Tagliavini, I. Faenza, A. M. Martelli, M. Y. Follo, L. Cocco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A number of cancers possess constitutive activity of the dsRNA-dependent kinase, PKR. Inhibition of PKR in these cancers leads to tumor cell death. We recently reported the increased presence of PKR phosphorylated on Thr451 (p-T451 PKR) in clinical samples from myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) patients and acute leukemia cell lines. Whereas p-T451 PKR in low-risk patient samples or PTEN-positive acute leukemia cell lines was mostly cytoplasmic, in high-risk patient samples and acute leukemia cell lines deficient in PTEN, p-T451 PKR was mainly nuclear. As nuclear activity of PKR has not been previously characterized, we examined the status of nuclear PKR in acute leukemia cell lines. Using antibodies to N-terminus, C-terminus and the kinase domain in conjunction with a proteomics approach, we found that PKR exists in diverse molecular weight forms in the nucleus. Analysis of PKR transcripts by reverse transcriptase-PCR, and PKR-derived peptides by MS/MS revealed that these forms were the result of post-translational modifications (PTMs). Biochemical analysis demonstrated that nuclear PKR is an active kinase that can respond to stress. Given the association of PKR with PTEN and the Fanconi complex, these results indicate that PKR likely has other previously unrecognized roles in nuclear signaling that may contribute to leukemic development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-245
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • acute leukemia
  • mass spectrometry
  • nucleus
  • PKR
  • post-translational modification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Cancer Research
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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