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Nucleic Acids Res. 2007;35(22):7429-55. Epub 2007 Oct 2.

Human telomere, oncogenic promoter and 5'-UTR G-quadruplexes: diverse higher order DNA and RNA targets for cancer therapeutics.

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Structural Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Guanine-rich DNA sequences can form G-quadruplexes stabilized by stacked G-G-G-G tetrads in monovalent cation-containing solution. The length and number of individual G-tracts and the length and sequence context of linker residues define the diverse topologies adopted by G-quadruplexes. The review highlights recent solution NMR-based G-quadruplex structures formed by the four-repeat human telomere in K(+) solution and the guanine-rich strands of c-myc, c-kit and variant bcl-2 oncogenic promoters, as well as a bimolecular G-quadruplex that targets HIV-1 integrase. Such structure determinations have helped to identify unanticipated scaffolds such as interlocked G-quadruplexes, as well as novel topologies represented by double-chain-reversal and V-shaped loops, triads, mixed tetrads, adenine-mediated pentads and hexads and snap-back G-tetrad alignments. The review also highlights the recent identification of guanine-rich sequences positioned adjacent to translation start sites in 5'-untranslated regions (5'-UTRs) of RNA oncogenic sequences. The activity of the enzyme telomerase, which maintains telomere length, can be negatively regulated through G-quadruplex formation at telomeric ends. The review evaluates progress related to ongoing efforts to identify small molecule drugs that bind and stabilize distinct G-quadruplex scaffolds associated with telomeric and oncogenic sequences, and outlines progress towards identifying recognition principles based on several X-ray-based structures of ligand-G-quadruplex complexes.

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