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Biochem J. 1995 Jun 15;308 ( Pt 3):839-46.

The embryonic RNA helicase gene (ERH): a new member of the DEAD box family of RNA helicases.

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  • 1MRC Human Biochemical Genetics Unit, Galton Laboratory (UCL), London, U.K.


DEAD box proteins share several highly conserved motifs including the characteristic Asp-Glu-Ala-Asp (D-E-A-D in the amino acid single-letter code) motif and have established or putative ATP-dependent RNA helicase activity. These proteins are implicated in a range of cellular processes that involve regulation of RNA function, including translation initiation, RNA splicing and ribosome assembly. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of an embryonic RNA helicase gene, ERH, which maps to mouse chromosome 1 and encodes a new member of the DEAD box family of proteins. The predicted ERH protein shows high sequence similarity to the testes-specific mouse PL10 and to the maternally acting Xenopus An3 helicase proteins. The ERH expression profile is similar, to that of An3, which localizes to the animal hemisphere of oocytes and is abundantly expressed in the embryo. ERH is expressed in oocytes and is a ubiquitous mRNA in the 9 days-post-conception embryo, and at later stages of development shows a more restricted pattern of expression in brain and kidney. The similarities in sequence and in expression profile suggest that ERH is the murine equivalent of the Xenopus An3 gene, and we propose that ERH plays a role in translational activation of mRNA in the oocyte and early embryo.

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