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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 May;40(9):3800-11. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr1258. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

Quadruplex-single nucleotide polymorphisms (Quad-SNP) influence gene expression difference among individuals.

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Proteomics and Structural Biology Unit, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, CSIR, Mall Road, Delhi 110 007, India.


Non-canonical guanine quadruplex structures are not only predominant but also conserved among bacterial and mammalian promoters. Moreover recent findings directly implicate quadruplex structures in transcription. These argue for an intrinsic role of the structural motif and thereby posit that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) that compromise the quadruplex architecture could influence function. To test this, we analysed SNPs within quadruplex motifs (Quad-SNP) and gene expression in 270 individuals across four populations (HapMap) representing more than 14,500 genotypes. Findings reveal significant association between quadruplex-SNPs and expression of the corresponding gene in individuals (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, analysis of Quad-SNPs obtained from population-scale sequencing of 1000 human genomes showed relative selection bias against alteration of the structural motif. To directly test the quadruplex-SNP-transcription connection, we constructed a reporter system using the RPS3 promoter-remarkable difference in promoter activity in the 'quadruplex-destabilized' versus 'quadruplex-intact' promoter was noticed. As a further test, we incorporated a quadruplex motif or its disrupted counterpart within a synthetic promoter reporter construct. The quadruplex motif, and not the disrupted-motif, enhanced transcription in human cell lines of different origin. Together, these findings build direct support for quadruplex-mediated transcription and suggest quadruplex-SNPs may play significant role in mechanistically understanding variations in gene expression among individuals.

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