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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(2), 2269-2293; doi:10.3390/ijms16022269

Unzippers, Resolvers and Sensors: A Structural and Functional Biochemistry Tale of RNA Helicases

Departamento de Ciências e Tecnologia da Biomassa, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Quinta da Torre, Campus de Caparica, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal
Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Prof. Egas Moniz, 1649-028 Lisboa, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Charles A. Collyer
Received: 24 November 2014 / Revised: 9 January 2015 / Accepted: 12 January 2015 / Published: 22 January 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protein Crystallography in Molecular Biology 2015)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [12403 KB, uploaded 22 January 2015]   |  


The centrality of RNA within the biological world is an irrefutable fact that currently attracts increasing attention from the scientific community. The panoply of functional RNAs requires the existence of specific biological caretakers, RNA helicases, devoted to maintain the proper folding of those molecules, resolving unstable structures. However, evolution has taken advantage of the specific position and characteristics of RNA helicases to develop new functions for these proteins, which are at the interface of the basic processes for transference of information from DNA to proteins. RNA helicases are involved in many biologically relevant processes, not only as RNA chaperones, but also as signal transducers, scaffolds of molecular complexes, and regulatory elements. Structural biology studies during the last decade, founded in X-ray crystallography, have characterized in detail several RNA-helicases. This comprehensive review summarizes the structural knowledge accumulated in the last two decades within this family of proteins, with special emphasis on the structure-function relationships of the most widely-studied families of RNA helicases: the DEAD-box, RIG-I-like and viral NS3 classes. View Full-Text
Keywords: RNA helicase; structural biology; protein-RNA complex; DEAD-box protein; innate immunity; RIG-I RNA helicase; structural biology; protein-RNA complex; DEAD-box protein; innate immunity; RIG-I

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Leitão, A.L.; Costa, M.C.; Enguita, F.J. Unzippers, Resolvers and Sensors: A Structural and Functional Biochemistry Tale of RNA Helicases. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16, 2269-2293.

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