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Biochemistry. 2011 Aug 23;50(33):7251-8. doi: 10.1021/bi200805j. Epub 2011 Jul 11.

A sequence-independent analysis of the loop length dependence of intramolecular RNA G-quadruplex stability and topology.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, UK.


G-Quadruplexes are noncanonical nucleic acid secondary structures based on guanine association that are readily adopted by G-rich RNA and DNA sequences. Naturally occurring genomic G-quadruplex-forming sequences have functional roles in biology that are mediated through structure. To appreciate how this is achieved, an understanding of the likelihood of G-quadruplex formation and the structural features of the folded species under a defined set of conditions is informative. We previously systematically investigated the thermodynamic stability and folding topology of DNA G-quadruplexes and found a strong dependence of these properties on loop length and loop arrangement [Bugaut, A., and Balasubramanian, S. (2008) Biochemistry 47, 689-697]. Here we report on a complementary analysis of RNA G-quadruplexes using UV melting and circular dichroism spectroscopy that also serves as a comparison to the equivalent DNA G-quadruplex-forming sequences. We found that the thermodynamic stability of G-quadruplex RNA can be modulated by loop length while the overall structure is largely unaffected. The systematic design of our study also revealed subtle loop length dependencies in RNA G-quadruplex structure.

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