DEAD-box helicases as integrators of RNA, nucleotide and protein binding

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Aug;1829(8):884-93. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2013.02.002. Epub 2013 Feb 15.


DEAD-box helicases perform diverse cellular functions in virtually all steps of RNA metabolism from Bacteria to Humans. Although DEAD-box helicases share a highly conserved core domain, the enzymes catalyze a wide range of biochemical reactions. In addition to the well established RNA unwinding and corresponding ATPase activities, DEAD-box helicases promote duplex formation and displace proteins from RNA. They can also function as assembly platforms for larger ribonucleoprotein complexes, and as metabolite sensors. This review aims to provide a perspective on the diverse biochemical features of DEAD-box helicases and connections to structural information. We discuss these data in the context of a model that views the enzymes as integrators of RNA, nucleotide, and protein binding. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: The Biology of RNA helicases - Modulation for life.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / genetics*
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleotides / genetics*
  • Nucleotides / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA / genetics*
  • RNA / metabolism*


  • Nucleotides
  • RNA
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases