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DEAD-box ATPase proteins are found in all clades of life and have been associated with a diverse array of RNA-processing reactions in eukaryotes, bacteria and archaea. Their highly conserved core enables them to bind RNA, often in an ATP-dependent manner. In the course of the ATP hydrolysis cycle, they undergo conformational rearrangements, which enable them to unwind short RNA duplexes or remodel RNA-protein complexes. Thus, they can function as RNA helicases or chaperones. However, when their conformation is locked, they can also clamp RNA and create ATP-dependent platforms for the formation of higher-order ribonucleoprotein complexes. Recently, it was shown that DEAD-box ATPases globally regulate the phase-separation behavior of RNA-protein complexes in vitro and control the dynamics of RNA-containing membraneless organelles in both pro- and eukaryotic cells. A role of these enzymes as regulators of RNA-protein condensates, or 'condensases', suggests a unifying view of how the biochemical activities of DEAD-box ATPases are used to keep cellular condensates dynamic and 'alive', and how they regulate the composition and fate of ribonucleoprotein complexes in different RNA processing steps. © 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.


Karsten Weis. Dead or alive: DEAD-box ATPases as regulators of ribonucleoprotein complex condensation. Biological chemistry. 2021 Apr 27;402(5):653-661

PMID: 33818025

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