Human DEAD-box protein 3 has multiple functions in gene regulation and cell cycle control and is a prime target for viral manipulation

Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 Feb 1;79(3):297-306. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2009.08.032. Epub 2009 Sep 25.


The human DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX3 has been implicated to play a role in the whole repertoire of processes regulating gene expression, including transcription, splicing, mRNA export and translation. It has also been suggested to be involved in cell cycle control and the regulation of apoptosis. In addition, DDX3 was recently shown to be part of innate immune signalling pathways and to contribute to the induction of anti-viral mediators, such as type I interferon. Interestingly, DDX3 appears to be a prime target for viral manipulation: at least four different viruses, namely Hepatitis C virus (HCV), Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and poxviruses, encode proteins that interact with DDX3 and modulate its function. HIV and HCV seem to co-opt DDX3 and require it for their replication. It has therefore been suggested that DDX3 could be a novel target for the development of drugs against these two viruses, both of which still pose major global health threats. However, in the light of the apparent multifunctionality of DDX3 in the cell, drug development strategies targeting DDX3 will have to be carefully evaluated. This review summarises the available data on the cellular functions of DDX3 and discusses their manipulation by the different viruses known to target DDX3. Understanding the viral strategies for manipulating or co-opting DDX3 in functional and molecular detail can provide valuable insights for the development of strategies to therapeutically target DDX3.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / physiology*
  • Drug Delivery Systems* / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Hepatitis Viruses / drug effects
  • Hepatitis Viruses / physiology
  • Humans


  • Antiviral Agents
  • DDX3X protein, human
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases