MOV10 RNA helicase is a potent inhibitor of retrotransposition in cells

PLoS Genet. 2012;8(10):e1002941. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002941. Epub 2012 Oct 18.


MOV10 protein, a putative RNA helicase and component of the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), inhibits retrovirus replication. We show that MOV10 also severely restricts human LINE1 (L1), Alu, and SVA retrotransposons. MOV10 associates with the L1 ribonucleoprotein particle, along with other RNA helicases including DDX5, DHX9, DDX17, DDX21, and DDX39A. However, unlike MOV10, these other helicases do not strongly inhibit retrotransposition, an activity dependent upon intact helicase domains. MOV10 association with retrotransposons is further supported by its colocalization with L1 ORF1 protein in stress granules, by cytoplasmic structures associated with RNA silencing, and by the ability of MOV10 to reduce endogenous and ectopic L1 expression. The majority of the human genome is repetitive DNA, most of which is the detritus of millions of years of accumulated retrotransposition. Retrotransposons remain active mutagens, and their insertion can disrupt gene function. Therefore, the host has evolved defense mechanisms to protect against retrotransposition, an arsenal we are only beginning to understand. With homologs in other vertebrates, insects, and plants, MOV10 may represent an ancient and innate form of immunity against both infective viruses and endogenous retroelements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Transport
  • RNA Helicases / chemistry
  • RNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • Retroelements*
  • Ribonucleoproteins / genetics
  • Ribonucleoproteins / metabolism


  • Retroelements
  • Ribonucleoproteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • RNA Helicases

Grant support

This work was supported by an NIH/NIGMS grant to HHK ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.