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Nature. 1991 May 23;351(6324):331-2.

Tetramerization of an RNA oligonucleotide containing a GGGG sequence.

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Department of Chemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511.


Poly rG can form four-stranded helices. The Hoogsteen-paired quartets of G residues on which such structures depend are so stable that they will form in 5'-GMP solutions, provided that Na+ or K+ are present (see for example, refs 2-4). Telomeric DNA sequences, which are G-rich, adopt four-stranded antiparallel G-quartet conformations in vitro, and parallel tetramerization of G-rich sequences may be involved in meiosis. Here we show that RNAs containing short runs of Gs can also tetramerize. A 19-base oligonucleotide derived from the 5S RNA of Escherichia coli (strand III), 5'GCCGAUGGUAGUGUGGGGU3', forms a K(+)-stabilized tetrameric aggregate that depends on the G residues at its 3' end. This complex is so stable that it would be surprising if similar structures do not occur in nature.

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