Helicases are a critical part of the DNA replication process because they unwind double-stranded DNA to create single strands suitable for copying by the replication machinery. This and other helicase activity in the cell depends on the ability of the helicase's protein “engine” to crawl along the DNA strand. This locomotion is powered by ATP, the cell's ubiquitous energy source.

Helicase ProteinA helicase protein moving rapidly on a highly flexible single-stranded DNA track. Repetitive movement on the DNA may keep it clear of potentially toxic proteins. Watch Animation 8KB Flash Animation(requires Flash Player)


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