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Biol Chem. 2001 Apr;382(4):621-8.

G-quadruplex DNA structures--variations on a theme.

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  • 1Medical Research Council, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK.


To be functional, nucleic acids need to adopt particular three-dimensional structures. For a long time DNA was regarded as a rigid and passive molecule with the sole purpose to store genetic information, but experimental data has now accumulated that indicates the full dynamic repertoire of this macromolecule. During the last decade, four-stranded DNA structures known as G-quadruplexes, or DNA tetraplexes, have emerged as a three-dimensional structure of special interest. Motifs for the formation of G-quadruplex DNA structures are widely dispersed in eukaryotic genomes, and are abundant in regions of biological significance, for example, at telomeres, in the promoters of many important genes, and at recombination hotspots, to name but a few in man. Here I explore the plethora of G-quadruplex DNA structures, and discuss their possible biological functions as well as the proteins that interact with them.

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