Double-stranded RNAs are an important class of functional macromolecules in living systems. They are usually found as part of highly specialized intracellular machines that control diverse cellular events, ranging from virus replication, antiviral defense, RNA interference, to regulation of gene activities and genomic integrity. Within different intracellular machines, the RNA duplex is often found in association with specific RNA-dependent ATPases, including Dicer, RIG-I and DRH-3 proteins. These duplex RNA-activated ATPases represent an emerging group of motor proteins within the large and diverse super family 2 nucleic acid-dependent ATPases (which are historically defined as SF2 helicases). The duplex RNA-activated ATPases share characteristic molecular features for duplex RNA recognition, including motifs (e.g., motifs IIa and Vc) and an insertion domain (HEL2i), and they require double-strand RNA binding for their enzymatic activities. Proteins in this family undergo large conformational changes concomitant with RNA binding, ATP binding and ATP hydrolysis in order to achieve their functions, which include the release of signaling domains and the recruitment of partner proteins. The duplex RNA-activated ATPases represent a distinct and fascinating group of nanomechanical molecular motors that are essential for duplex RNA sensing and processing in diverse cellular pathways.
Keywords: ATPases; Dicer; RIG-I like receptors; RNAi; antiviral immunity; helicase; molecular motor.