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Curr Genet. 2017 Aug;63(4):621-626. doi: 10.1007/s00294-016-0675-2. Epub 2017 Jan 4.

The functions of the multi-tasking Pfh1Pif1 helicase.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University, 901 87, Umeå, Sweden.


Approximately, 1% of the genes in eukaryotic genomes encode for helicases, which make the number of helicases expressed in the cell considerably high. Helicases are motor proteins that participate in many central aspects of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, and based on their helicase motif conservation, they are divided into different helicase families. The Pif1 family of helicases is an evolutionarily conserved helicase family that is associated with familial breast cancer in humans. The Schizosaccharomyces pombe Pfh1 helicase belongs to the Pif1 helicase family and is a multi-tasking helicase that is important for replication fork progression through natural fork barriers, for G-quadruplex unwinding, and for Okazaki fragment maturation, and these activities are potentially shared by the human Pif1 helicase. This review discusses the known functions of the Pfh1 helicase, the study of which has led to a better understanding of nucleic acid metabolism in eukaryotes.


G-quadruplex DNA; Helicase; Pfh1; Pif1; Schizosaccharomyces pombe; Telomere

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