The helC gene encodes a putative DEAD-box RNA helicase required for development in Dictyostelium discoideum

Machesky, L. M. , Insall, R. H. and Kay, R. R. (1998) The helC gene encodes a putative DEAD-box RNA helicase required for development in Dictyostelium discoideum. Current Biology, 8(10), 607-S4. (doi: 10.1016/S0960-9822(98)70233-7) (PMID:9601648)

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DEAD-box RNA helicases, defined by the sequence Asp–Glu–Ala–Asp (DEAD, in single-letter amino-acid code), regulate RNA unwinding and secondary structure in an ATP-dependent manner in vitro [1] and control mRNA stability and protein translation. Both yeast and mammals have large families of DEAD-box proteins, many of unknown function. We have disrupted a Dictyostelium discoideum gene, helC, which encodes helicase C, a member of the DEAD-box family of RNA helicases that shows strong homology to the product of the essential Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene dbp5 [2] and to related helicases in mouse and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The HelC protein also shows weaker homology to the translation initiation factor elF-4a. Other DEAD-box-containing proteins, which are less closely related to HelC, have been implicated in developmental roles in Drosophila [3] and Xenopus laevis; one example is the Xenopus Vasa-like protein (XVLP) [4]; [5] ; [6]. In Drosophila and Xenopus, Vasa and XVLP, respectively, are required for the establishment of tissue polarity during development. In yeast, DEAD-box helicases such as Prp8 [7] are components of the spliceosome and connect pre-mRNA splicing with the cell cycle. Disruption of the helC gene in D. discoideum led to developmental asynchrony, failure to differentiate and aberrant morphogenesis. We postulate that one reason for the existence of large families of homologous DEAD-box proteins in yeast, mammals and Dictyostelium could be that some DEAD-box proteins have developmentally specific roles regulating protein translation or mRNA stability.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Machesky, Professor Laura and Insall, Professor Robert
Authors: Machesky, L. M., Insall, R. H., and Kay, R. R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Cancer Sciences
Journal Name:Current Biology
ISSN (Online):1879-0445
Published Online:22 July 2004

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