The noncoding RNA nc886 regulates PKR signaling and cytokine production in human cells

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Protein kinase RNA-activated (PKR) is a cytoplasmic receptor for dsRNA, and as such is involved in detection of viral infection. On binding dsRNA, PKR dimerizes, autophosphorylates, and then phosphorylates its substrate, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 subunit a (eIF2α), causing inhibition of mRNA translation and shutdown of viral protein production. However, active PKR has also been found to be involved in the NF-κB signaling pathway by inducing phosphorylation of IkBa. PKR is regulated by the noncoding RNA nc886, which has altered expression in cancer. We have found that expression of nc886 is highly upregulated during activation of human CD4+ T cells. As has been described in other cell types, nc886 bound to PKR in human T cell lysates, preventing PKR phosphorylation by polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid or HIV trans-activation response element RNA in lysates of T cell lines or primary human CD4+ T cells. Using clonal human T cell lines, we found that nc886 expression was strictly required for IFN-γ and IL-2 expression and secretion after T cell activation but did not affect proliferation or activation-induced cell death. In stimulated human PBMCs, nc886 expression strongly correlated with IFN-γ expression. Although nc886 inhibited PKR activation by dsRNA, it was required for PKR phosphorylation during T cell stimulation, with subsequent NF-κB signaling and CREB phosphorylation. nc886 also regulated PKR phosphorylation during human monocyte-derived macrophage activation. We have therefore identified nc886 as a noncoding RNA marker of T cell activation and regulator of PKR-dependent signaling.


External organisations
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology in the medical area
  • Medicinal Chemistry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch