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Nucleic Acids Res. 2003 Oct 1;31(19):5469-82.

RNA structure of trinucleotide repeats associated with human neurological diseases.

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Laboratory of Cancer Genetics, Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Science, Noskowskiego 12/14, 61-704 Poznan, Poland.


The tandem repeats of trinucleotide sequences are present in many human genes and their expansion in specific genes causes a number of hereditary neurological disorders. The normal function of triplet repeats in transcripts is barely known and the role of expanded RNA repeats in the pathogenesis of Triplet Repeat Expansion Diseases needs to be more fully elucidated. Here we have described the structures formed by transcripts composed of AAG, CAG, CCG, CGG and CUG repeats, which were determined by chemical and enzymatic structure probing. With the exception of the repeated AAG motif, all studied repeats form hairpin structures and these hairpins show several alternative alignments. We have determined the molecular architectures of these co-existing hairpin structures by using transcripts with GC-clamps which imposed single alignments of hairpins. We have provided experimental evidence that CCUG repeats implicated in myotonic dystrophy type 2 also form hairpin structures with properties similar to that composed of the CUG repeats.

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