Members of the DEAD/H box-containing helicase superfamily include proteins essential to genome replication, repair, and expression. We report here the cloning and initial characterization of a novel human member of this protein family, designated hHell (human helicase 1), now designated SBARCAD1 by HUGO. This DEAD/H box-containing molecule has seven highly conserved sequence regions that allow us to place it in the SNF2 family of the helicase superfamily. Uniquely, though, hHel1 contains two DEAD/H box motifs, a property not reported to be shared by any other SNF2 family members. This defines a new subfamily consisting of hHel1 and its homologues. In addition to these DEAD/H box/ATP-binding motifs, hHel1 has a putative nuclear localization signal and several regions that may mediate protein-protein interactions. Expression analysis indicates that hHel1 transcripts are ubiquitous, with particularly high levels in endocrine tissue. We have mapped the gene for hHel1 to human chromosome 4q22-q23; this region is rich in breakpoints and deletion mutants of genes involved in several human diseases, notably soft tissue leiomyosarcoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, and hematologic malignancies. Our observation that human Hell gene overexpression is present in an E1A-expressing cell line with increased capacity for gene reactivation events by genomic rearrangement suggests that human Hel1 may play a role in genetic instability development. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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