Double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase R (PKR) is known to be upregulated by hepatitis C virus (HCV) and overexpressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the precise roles of PKR in HCC with HCV infection remain unclear. Two HCV replicating cell lines (JFH-1 and H77s), generated by transfection of Huh7.5.1 cells, were used for experiments reported here. PKR expression was modulated with siRNA and a PKR expression plasmid, and cancer-related genes were assessed by real-time PCR and Western blotting; cell lines were further analyzed using a proliferation assay. Modulation of genes by PKR was also assessed in 34 human HCC specimens. Parallel changes in c-Fos and c-Jun gene expression with PKR were observed. Levels of phosphorylated c-Fos and c-Jun were upregulated by an increase of PKR, and were related to levels of phosphorylated JNK1 and Erk1/2. DNA binding activities of c-Fos and c-Jun also correlated with PKR expression, and cell proliferation was dependent on PKR-modulated c-Fos and c-Jun expression. Coordinate expression of c-Jun and PKR was confirmed in human HCC specimens with HCV infection. PKR upregulated c-Fos and c-Jun activities through activation of Erk1/2 and JNK1, respectively. These modulations resulted in HCC cell proliferation with HCV infection. These findings suggest that PKR-related proliferation pathways could be an attractive therapeutic target. © 2013 Watanabe et al.
Watanabe, T., Hiasa, Y., Tokumoto, Y., Hirooka, M., Abe, M., Ikeda, Y., … Onji, M. (2013). Protein Kinase R Modulates c-Fos and c-Jun Signaling to Promote Proliferation of Hepatocellular Carcinoma with Hepatitis C Virus Infection. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0067750