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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Dec 7;107(49):20970-3. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1011196107. Epub 2010 Nov 15.

Annealing helicase 2 (AH2), a DNA-rewinding motor with an HNH motif.

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  • 1Section of Molecular Biology, 0347 University of California at San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0347, USA.


The structure and integrity of DNA is of considerable biological and biomedical importance, and it is therefore critical to identify and to characterize enzymes that alter DNA structure. DNA helicases are ATP-driven motor proteins that unwind DNA. Conversely, HepA-related protein (HARP) protein (also known as SMARCAL1 and DNA-dependent ATPase A) is an annealing helicase that rewinds DNA in an ATP-dependent manner. To date, HARP is the only known annealing helicase. Here we report the identification of a second annealing helicase, which we term AH2, for annealing helicase 2. Like HARP, AH2 catalyzes the ATP-dependent rewinding of replication protein A (RPA)-bound complementary single-stranded DNA, but does not exhibit any detectable helicase activity. Unlike HARP, however, AH2 lacks a conserved RPA-binding domain and does not interact with RPA. In addition, AH2 contains an HNH motif, which is commonly found in bacteria and fungi and is often associated with nuclease activity. AH2 appears to be the only vertebrate protein with an HNH motif. Contrary to expectations, purified AH2 does not exhibit nuclease activity, but it remains possible that AH2 contains a latent nuclease that is activated under specific conditions. These structural and functional differences between AH2 and HARP suggest that different annealing helicases have distinct functions in the cell.

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