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RNA Biol. 2010 Nov-Dec;7(6):667-76. Epub 2010 Nov 1.

Roles of DEAD-box proteins in RNA and RNP Folding.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA.


RNAs and RNA-protein complexes (RNPs) traverse rugged energy landscapes as they fold to their native structures, and many continue to undergo conformational rearrangements as they function. Due to the inherent stability of local RNA structure, proteins are required to assist with RNA conformational transitions during initial folding and in exchange between functional structures. DEAD-box proteins are superfamily 2 RNA helicases that are ubiquitously involved in RNA-mediated processes. Some of these proteins use an ATP-dependent cycle of conformational changes to disrupt RNA structure nonprocessively, accelerating structural transitions of RNAs and RNPs in a manner that bears a strong resemblance to the activities of certain groups of protein chaperones. This review summarizes recent work using model substrates and tractable self-splicing intron RNAs, which has given new insights into how DEAD-box proteins promote RNA folding steps and conformational transitions, and it summarizes recent progress in identifying sites and mechanisms of DEAD-box protein activity within more complex cellular targets.

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