Human HEL308 localizes to damaged replication forks and unwinds lagging strand structures.
Tafel AA., Wu L., McHugh PJ.
HEL308 is a superfamily II DNA helicase, conserved from archaea through to humans. HEL308 family members were originally isolated by their similarity to the Drosophila melanogaster Mus308 protein, which contributes to the repair of replication-blocking lesions such as DNA interstrand cross-links. Biochemical studies have established that human HEL308 is an ATP-dependent enzyme that unwinds DNA with a 3' to 5' polarity, but little else is know about its mechanism. Here, we show that GFP-tagged HEL308 localizes to replication forks following camptothecin treatment. Moreover, HEL308 colocalizes with two factors involved in the repair of damaged forks by homologous recombination, Rad51 and FANCD2. Purified HEL308 requires a 3' single-stranded DNA region to load and unwind duplex DNA structures. When incubated with substrates that model stalled replication forks, HEL308 preferentially unwinds the parental strands of a structure that models a fork with a nascent lagging strand, and the unwinding action of HEL308 is specifically stimulated by human replication protein A. Finally, we show that HEL308 appears to target and unwind from the junction between single-stranded to double-stranded DNA on model fork structures. Together, our results suggest that one role for HEL308 at sites of blocked replication might be to open up the parental strands to facilitate the loading of subsequent factors required for replication restart.