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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2004 Mar-Apr;39(2):79-97.

Structure and function of RecQ DNA helicases.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.


RecQ family helicases play important roles in coordinating genome maintenance pathways in living cells. In the absence of functional RecQ proteins, cells exhibit a variety of phenotypes, including increased mitotic recombination, elevated chromosome missegregation, hypersensitivity to DNA-damaging agents, and defects in meiosis. Mutations in three of the five human RecQ family members give rise to genetic disorders associated with a predisposition to cancer and premature aging, highlighting the importance of RecQ proteins and their cellular activities for human health. Current evidence suggests that RecQ proteins act at multiple steps in DNA replication, including stabilization of replication forks and removal of DNA recombination intermediates, in order to maintain genome integrity. The cellular basis of RecQ helicase function may be explained through interactions with multiple components of the DNA replication and recombination machinery. This review focuses on biochemical and structural aspects of the RecQ helicases and how these features relate to their known cellular function, specifically in preventing excessive recombination.

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