An in silico and in vitro pipeline for the rapid screening of helicase modulators

EMBnet J. 2020;25:e927. doi: 10.14806/ej.25.0.927. Epub 2020 Feb 13.


To evaluate the potency of potential helicase modulators, we developed an assay of helicase enzyme activity. Using a DNA or RNA biotin labelled oligonucleotide and after the addition of a recombinant helicase, the nucleic acid unwinds, causing the emission of luminescence, which is quantified with a particular antibody. In our assay, one of the DNA oligos was biotinylated, while the other was labelled with digoxygenin (DIG), both in their 5' termini. The biotin molecule immobilises the DNA duplex on a neutravidin-coated plate and the helicase activity is measured through the unwinding of DNA, due to ATP activation. The subsequent release of DIG-labelled oligos results in a luminescence signal measured with a chemiluminescence antibody. Our goal was to provide a high throughput screening method for potential helicase inhibitors. The method described in this paper has been demonstrated to be fast, easy and reproducible and doesn't use radiochemicals.