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Helicases are enzymes that use the energy derived from ATP hydrolysis to catalyze the unwinding of DNA or RNA. The RecQ family of helicases is conserved through evolution from prokaryotes to higher eukaryotes and plays important roles in various DNA repair pathways, contributing to the maintenance of genome integrity. Despite their roles as general tumor suppressors, there is now considerable interest in exploiting RecQ helicases as synthetic lethal targets for the development of new cancer therapeutics. In this review, we summarize the latest developments in the structural and mechanistic study of RecQ helicases and discuss their roles in various DNA repair pathways. Finally, we consider the potential to exploit RecQ helicases as therapeutic targets and review the recent progress towards the development of small molecules targeting RecQ helicases as cancer therapeutics.

Original publication




Journal article


Essays in biochemistry

Publication Date





819 - 830


Structural Genomics Consortium, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7DQ, U.K.


Humans, Neoplasms, Genomic Instability, DNA Repair, RecQ Helicases