D-E-A-D protein family of putative RNA helicases



RNA metabolism plays a central role in cell growth. It is essential to regulate RNA synthesis, processing, stability and degradation. Conformational changes in RNA are key elements in regulating cellular processes. Recently, an increasing number of putative RNA helicases from different organisms ranging from Escherichia coli to humans and viruses have been identified. They are Involved in diverse cellular functions such as RNA splicing, ribosome assembly, initiation of translation, spermatogenesis, embryogenesis, and cell growth and division. Based on sequence homologies these proteins were grouped in a family, the D-E-A-D box protein family (D-E-A-D = Asp-Glu-Ala-Asp). Some of the better characterized members have been shown to possess ATP-binding and hydrolysing activities as well as ATP-dependent RNA helicase activities. Most of the genes encoding such proteins have been isolated from yeast, on which we will focus in this review. From sequence data, three of the members form a subfamily, the D-E-A-H subfamily.