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Professor Mark Dillingham


Helicases as modular components of DNA processing machines: Helicases are motor proteins that translocate along and unwind duplex nucleic acids into their component single strands in an ATP-dependent manner. They are exceptionally abundant enzymes and constitute about 1% of the proteome. Accordingly, they are involved in a wide variety of nucleic acid transactions including DNA replication, repair, recombination and transcription and virtually every aspect of RNA metabolism. An increasing body of evidence suggests that Superfamily I DNA helicases act as modular units that are programmed to fulfil specific cellular tasks by accessory domains and/or interactions with other proteins. Our research is focused on uncovering the role of such helicases in complex DNA manipulations, such as the processing of broken DNA for repair by homologous recombination. We are also interested in understanding the structural basis for the activation and catalytic modulation of helicase activity, afforded by interaction with partner proteins.

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Key words

  • helicases
  • proteins
  • motor proteins
  • duplex nucleic acids