(1) Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry Department, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
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Helicases are motor proteins that couple the energy derived from ATP hydrolysis to DNA strand separation. Eukaryotic genomes often encode hundreds of helicase genes because these enzymes are involved in multiple processes that maintain genome stability in the face of endogenous and exogenous sources of DNA damage. A particularly harmful type of DNA lesion is an inter-strand crosslink (ICL) because covalent linkage of both DNA strands blocks replication and transcription. This review focuses on the functions of Fanconi Anemia and RecQ family helicases, as well as other helicases, known to function in ICL repair.
Mutations in repair helicases can lead to pleiotropic clinical features, many of which are related to cancer. Examining even a single type of DNA lesion, such as an ICL, demonstrates the incredible molecular machinery cells must utilize to repair the damage.