The multiple functions of RNA helicases as drivers and regulators of gene expression

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2016 Jul;17(7):426-38. doi: 10.1038/nrm.2016.50. Epub 2016 Jun 2.


RNA helicases comprise the largest family of enzymes involved in the metabolism of mRNAs, the processing and fate of which rely on their packaging into messenger ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs). In this Review, we describe how the capacity of some RNA helicases to either remodel or lock the composition of mRNP complexes underlies their pleiotropic functions at different steps of the gene expression process. We illustrate the roles of RNA helicases in coordinating gene expression steps and programmes, and propose that RNA helicases function as molecular drivers and guides of the progression of their mRNA substrates from one RNA-processing factory to another, to a productive mRNA pool that leads to protein synthesis or to unproductive mRNA pools that are stored or degraded.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • RNA Helicases / physiology*
  • RNA Splicing
  • RNA Transport
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA Helicases