From keys to bulldozers: Expanding roles for winged helix domains in nucleic-acid-binding proteins

Gábor M. Harami, Máté Gyimesi, Mihály Kovács

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

44 Citations (Scopus)


The winged helix domain (WHD) is a widespread nucleic-acid-binding protein structural element found in all kingdoms of life. Although the overall structure of the WHD is conserved, its functional properties and interaction profiles are extremely versatile. WHD-containing proteins can exploit nearly the full spectrum of nucleic acid structural features for recognition and even covalent modification or noncovalent rearrangement of target molecules. WHD functions range from sequence-recognizing keys in transcription factors and bulldozer-like strand-separating wedges in helicases to mediators of protein-protein interactions (PPIs). Further investigations are needed to understand the contribution of WHD structural dynamics to nucleic-acid-modifying enzymatic functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-371
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Biochemical Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2013



  • Helicase
  • Helix-turn-helix
  • Protein-DNA interaction
  • RNA
  • RecQ
  • Z-DNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

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