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FEBS Lett. 2003 Nov 20;554(3):485-8.

The importance of the Q motif in the ATPase activity of a viral helicase.

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Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, St Mary's Hospital Campus, London W2 1NY, UK.


NS3 proteins of flaviviruses contain motifs which indicate that they possess protease and helicase activities. The helicases are members of the DExD/H box helicase superfamily and NS3 proteins from some flaviviruses have been shown to possess ATPase and helicase activities in vitro. The Q motif is a recently recognised cluster of nine amino acids common to most DExD/H box helicases which is proposed to regulate ATP binding and hydrolysis. In addition a conserved residue occurs 17 amino acids upstream of the Q motif ('+17'). We have analysed full-length and truncated NS3 proteins from Powassan virus (a tick-borne flavivirus) to investigate the role that the Q motif plays in the hydrolysis of ATP by a viral helicase. The Q motif appears to be essential for the activity of Powassan virus NS3 ATPase, however NS3 deletion mutants that contain the Q motif but lack the '+17' amino acid have ATPase activity albeit at a reduced level.

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