RNA helicases: Emerging roles in viral replication and the host innate response

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74 Scopus citations


RNA helicases serve multiple roles at the virus-host interface. In some situations, RNA helicases are essential host factors to promote viral replication; however, in other cases they serve as a cellular sensor to trigger the antiviral state in response to viral infection. All family members share the conserved ATP-dependent catalytic core linked to different substrate recognition and protein-protein interaction domains. These flanking domains can be shuffled between different helicases to achieve functional diversity. This review summarizes recent studies, This review summarizes recent studies of RNA helicases in virus biology. First, RNA helicases are catalysts of progressive RNA-protein rearrangements that begin at gene transcription and culminate in release of infectious virus. Second, RNA helicases can act as a scaffold for alternative protein-protein interactions that can defeat the antiviral state. The mounting fundamental understanding of RNA helicases is being used to develop selective and efficacious drugs against human and animal pathogens. The analysis of RNA helicases in virus model systems continues to provide insights into virology, cell biology and immunology and has provided fresh perspective to continue unraveling the complexity of virushost interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-787
Number of pages13
JournalRNA Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Mr. Tim Vojt for illustration, Dr. Paula Pitha and Reviewers for their helpful comments. The authors appreciate the support of Glenn Barber Predoctoral Fellowship, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State University to A.R. and NIH NCI P30CA100730 and RO1CA108882 to K.B.L.


  • Antiviral state
  • Assembly
  • Interferon response
  • Plant and animal viruses
  • Reverse transcription
  • Viral gene expression


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