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Annu Rev Biochem. 2007;76:23-50.

Structure and mechanism of helicases and nucleic acid translocases.

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Macromolecular Structure and Function Laboratory, The London Research Institute, London WC2A 3PX, United Kingdom.


Helicases and translocases are a ubiquitous, highly diverse group of proteins that perform an extraordinary variety of functions in cells. Consequently, this review sets out to define a nomenclature for these enzymes based on current knowledge of sequence, structure, and mechanism. Using previous definitions of helicase families as a basis, we delineate six superfamilies of enzymes, with examples of crystal structures where available, and discuss these structures in the context of biochemical data to outline our present understanding of helicase and translocase activity. As a result, each superfamily is subdivided, where appropriate, on the basis of mechanistic understanding, which we hope will provide a framework for classification of new superfamily members as they are discovered and characterized.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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