DNA helicases: enzymes with essential roles in all aspects of DNA metabolism

Bioessays. 1994 Jan;16(1):13-22. doi: 10.1002/bies.950160103.


DNA helicases catalyze the disruption of the hydrogen bonds that hold the two strands of double-stranded DNA together. This energy-requiring unwinding reaction results in the formation of the single-stranded DNA required as a template or reaction intermediate in DNA replication, repair and recombination. A combination of biochemical and genetic studies have been used to probe and define the roles of the multiple DNA helicases found in E. coli. This work and similar efforts in eukaryotic cells, although far from complete, have established that DNA helicases are essential components of the machinery that interacts with the DNA molecule.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Helicases / genetics
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • DNA Repair
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genes, Fungal
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • SOS Response, Genetics
  • Thymus Gland / enzymology


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • DNA
  • DNA Helicases