The helicase domain of dengue virus NS3 protein (DENV NS3H) contains RNA-stimulated nucleoside triphosphatase (NTPase), ATPase/helicase, and RNA 5′-triphosphatase (RTPase) activities that are essential for viral RNA replication and capping. Here, we show that DENV NS3H unwinds 3′-tailed duplex with an RNA but not a DNA loading strand, and the helicase activity is poorly processive. The substrate of the divalent cation-dependent RTPase activity is not restricted to viral RNA 5′-terminus, a protruding 5′-terminus made the RNA 5′-triphosphate readily accessible to DENV NS3H. DENV NS3H preferentially binds RNA to DNA, and the functional interaction with RNA is sensitive to ionic strength.
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