Helicases and Their Importance in Abiotic Stresses

  • Zeba I. SerajEmail author
  • Sabrina M. Elias
  • Sudip Biswas
  • Narendra Tuteja


Helicases are a ubiquitous class of ATP-dependent nucleic acid unwinding enzymes crucial for life processes in all living organisms. There are six classes of helicases based on their conserved amino acid sequences. All eukaryotic RNA helicases belong to the SF1 and SF2 groups. Groups SF3–SF5 are mainly viral and bacterial DNA helicases, while SF6 includes the ubiquitous mini-chromosome maintenance or MCM group of helicases. SF3–SF6 are also characterized as hexameric ring-forming, whereas SF1 and SF2 groups are usually monomeric. The SF2 class is the largest group of helicases, including both DNA and RNA helicases with the widest range of function in replication, transcription, translation, repair, as well as chromatin remodeling. There is no clear sequence-based separation between DNA and RNA helicases. SF2 also includes both RNA and DNA helicases that are involved in biotic and abiotic stresses. While both DNA and RNA helicases play important roles in normal cellular function, the latter are more markedly involved in stress alleviation. This functional divergence was also evident in promoter sequence comparisons of the 113 A. thaliana helicases. Some DNA helicases like those from SF6 (MCM) and SF2 (CHR) are also active under stressed conditions. However, the most prominent stress-activated helicases are those with the conserved amino acid motifs, DEAD/H. Overexpression of DEAD/H helicases in many crops confers a growth advantage in the transgenic plants and has resulted in their protection against major abiotic stresses, such as salinity, drought, and oxidative stresses with minimal loss in yield potential.


Ubiquitous ATP-dependent nucleic acid DNA and RNA helicases Hexameric Monomeric Chromatin remodeling Conserved amino acid motifs Transgenic plants Abiotic stresses Yield potential 



HLA-B-associated transcript 1




Brassinazole-resistant 1


Calcineurin B-like


Chromatin remodeling31


Cation/H+ antiporter


CBL-interacting protein kinase


D-E-A-D (Asp-Glu-Ala-Asp)


Dicer-related RNA helicase


Embryo sac development arrest


Eukaryotic initiation factor


European Molecular Biology Laboratory


K+/H+ antiporter


Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes


Low osmotic response gene 4




Mutant effect embryo 29


Molecular evolutionary genetics analysis version 7


Oligonucleotide-mer replacement




Nucleoside diphosphate kinase


Petite integration fequency


Posttranscriptional gene silencing


RNA-directed DNA methylase


Recombinant specific


RNA helicase


Reactive oxygen species


Silencing defective




Salt overly sensitive


Switch/sucrose non-fermented DNA helicase


SPAYED (stem cell maintainence in SAM and enhances expression of the pluripotency gene WUSCHEL)


Thermotolerant growth required 1


Up-frameshift-1, triggers nonsense-mediated decay


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zeba I. Seraj
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sabrina M. Elias
    • 1
  • Sudip Biswas
    • 1
  • Narendra Tuteja
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyDhaka UniversityDhakaBangladesh
  2. 2.Amity Institute of Microbial TechnologyAmity UniversityNoidaIndia

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