Mitochondrial and nuclear localization of human Pif1 helicase

Biol Pharm Bull. 2007 Sep;30(9):1685-92. doi: 10.1248/bpb.30.1685.


Yeast Pif1 DNA helicase is the prototype member of a helicase subfamily participating in the maintenance of telomere, ribosome, and mitochondria DNAs. The Pif1 DNA helicase family is highly conserved from yeast to human, but the biochemical nature of human homologues remains to be clarified. To this end, we investigated the transcriptional unit of human Pif1 gene and its encoded protein hPif1. The results showed that the hPif1 gene product has at least two isoforms consisting of the conserved helicase motif and differential C-terminal regions derived from alternative splicing of the gene transcript. Deletion mutant analysis showed that Pif1 helicase has nuclear localization signal and mitochondria targeting signal at the N-terminal and C-terminal regions, respectively. In HeLa cells, hPif1 helicase expression was induced by the release of cells from serum starvation, suggesting that hPif1 has roles in the S phase. Consistently, the down regulation of the hPif1 helicase by RNA interference with siRNA caused a cell cycle delay at the S phase. These findings suggest that hPif1 in the nucleus may be involved in chromosome maintenance in association with DNA replication, while the function of hPif1 remains to be clarified.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Nucleus / enzymology*
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA Helicases / genetics
  • DNA Helicases / isolation & purification
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mitochondria / enzymology*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • S Phase / drug effects
  • Subcellular Fractions / drug effects
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism


  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • DNA
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • DNA Helicases
  • PIF1 protein, human