PKR, a latent protein kinase, mediates the antiviral actions of interferon. It is also involved in cellular signal transduction, apoptosis, growth regulation and differentiation. Although in virus-infected cells, viral double-stranded (ds) RNA can serve as a PKR activator, cellular activators have remained obscure. Here, we report the cloning of PACT, a cellular protein activator of PKR. PACT heterodimerized with PKR and activated it in vitro in the absence of dsRNA. In mammalian cells, overexpression of PACT caused PKR activation and, in yeast, co-expression of PACT enhanced the anti-growth effect of PKR. Thus, PACT has the hallmarks of a direct activator of PKR.
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