In eukaryotic organisms, the orthologs of the DEAD-box RNA helicase Ded1p from yeast and DDX3 from human form a well-defined subfamily that is characterized by high sequence conservation in their helicase core and their N- and C- termini. Individual members of this Ded1/DDX3 subfamily perform multiple functions in RNA metabolism in both nucleus and cytoplasm. Ded1/DDX3 subfamily members have also been implicated in cellular signaling pathways and are targeted by diverse viruses. In this review, we discuss the considerable body of work on the biochemistry and biology of these proteins, including the recently discovered link of human DDX3 to tumorigenesis.
Keywords: DDX3; DEAD-box; Ded1; RNA; helicase; tumor; unwinding; virus.