Thr 446 phosphorylation of PKR by HCV core protein deregulates G2/M phase in HCC cells

A. Alisi, R. Mele, A. Spaziani, S. Tavolaro, E. Palescandolo, C. Balsano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the major causative viral agent of cirrhosis and hepatocarcinoma (HCC). HCV core protein affects cell homeostasis, playing an important role in viral pathogenesis of HCC. We investigate the effects of HCV core protein expression on cell growth in HCC cell lines. Cell cycle distribution analysis of HepG2 polyclonal core positive cells reveals a peculiar accumulation of cells in G2/M phase. Different pathways mediate G2/M arrest: such as p53 and double strand RNA protein kinase (PKR). Flow cytometry in p53-null cells demonstrates that p53 plays only a marginal role in inducing HCV core-dependent G2/M phase accumulation that seems to be significantly affected by the functional inactivation of PKR. HCC core positive cells are characterized by a significant PKR phosphorylation in Thr 446 residue, which leads deregulation of mitosis. Moreover, we observe that the overexpression of the viral protein induces an upregulation of PKR activity, which does not correlate with an increased elF-2 phosphorylation. This uncommon behavior of PKR suggests that its activation by HCV core protein could involve alternative PKR-dependent pathways, implicated in core-dependent G2/M accumulation. The described biological effects of HCV core protein on cell cycle could be an additional viral mechanism for both HCV resistance to Interferon (IFN) and HCC HCV-related pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-31
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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