RNA helicases unwind their RNA substrates in an ATP-dependent reaction, and are central to all cellular processes involving RNA. They have important roles in viral life cycles, where RNA helicases are either virus-encoded or recruited from the host. Vertebrate RNA helicases sense viral infections, and trigger the innate antiviral immune response. RNA helicases have been implicated in protozoic, bacterial and fungal infections. They are also linked to neurological disorders, cancer, and aging processes.
Genome-wide studies continue to identify helicase genes that change their expression patterns after infection or disease outbreak, but the mechanism of RNA helicase action has been defined for only a few diseases. RNA helicases are prognostic and diagnostic markers and suitable drug targets, predominantly for antiviral and anti-cancer therapies. This review summarizes the current knowledge on RNA helicases in infection and disease, and their growing potential as drug targets.Full Text Options