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J Phys Chem B. 2013 Jun 13;117(23):6896-905. doi: 10.1021/jp401739m. Epub 2013 May 29.

Effect of loops and G-quartets on the stability of RNA G-quadruplexes.

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Proteomics and Structural Biology Unit, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, CSIR, Mall Road, Delhi 110007, India.


The loop length, loop composition, salt concentration, and number of G-quartets are major determinants of G-quadruplex stability. We examined the effect of each of these factors on the thermal stability and folding topology of a library of RNA quadruplexes. The thermal stability of G2 and G3 RNA quadruplexes was investigated upon varying the loop length (from 1-1-1 to 15-15-15) and salt concentration (from 1 to 100 mM KCl), while the effect of loop composition was explored using 18 naturally occurring potential RNA quadruplexes predicted in untranslated regions (UTRs). We found loop length and quadruplex stability to be inversely related for G2 RNA quadruplexes and G3 RNA quadruplexes with shorter loops. However, melting temperature saturates for G3 RNA quadruplexes with longer loops. RNA G-quadruplexes with longer loops (G3 15-15-15) displayed Tm values significantly higher than the physiological temperature. This study thus highlights the need to modify the consensus motif presently used by quadruplex prediction tools. An increase in the loop size from 7 bases to 15 bases in the consensus motif will add to its predictive value for the discovery of potential RNA quadruplexes across transcriptomes.

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