DExD/H box RNA helicases: from generic motors to specific dissociation functions

Mol Cell. 2001 Aug;8(2):251-62. doi: 10.1016/s1097-2765(01)00329-x.


RNA helicases of the DEAD box and related DExD/H proteins form a very large superfamily of proteins conserved from bacteria and viruses to humans. They have seven to eight conserved motifs, the characteristics of which are used to subgroup members into individual families. They are associated with all processes involving RNA molecules, including transcription, editing, splicing, ribosome biogenesis, RNA export, translation, RNA turnover, and organelle gene expression. Analysis of the three-dimensional structures obtained through the crystallization of viral and cellular RNA helicases reveals a strong structural homology to DNA helicases. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of RNA helicases and their biological function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multigene Family
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA Helicases / chemistry*
  • RNA Helicases / classification
  • RNA Helicases / genetics
  • RNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • RNA Splicing
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • RNA
  • RNA Helicases