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Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Jan;42(2):1209-23. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt904. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

New scoring system to identify RNA G-quadruplex folding.

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RNA Group/Groupe ARN, Département de biochimie, Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé, Pavillon de recherche appliquée au cancer, Université de Sherbrooke, QC J1E 4K8, Canada.


G-quadruplexes (G4s) are non-canonical structures involved in many important cellular processes. To date, the prediction of potential G-quadruplex structures (PG4s) has been based almost exclusively on the sequence of interest agreeing with the algorithm Gx-N-1-7-Gx-N1-7-Gx-N1-7-Gx (where x ≥ 3 and N = A, U, G or C). However, many sequences agreeing with this algorithm do not form G4s and are considered false-positive predictions. Here we show the RNA PG4 candidate in the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of the TTYH1 gene to be one such false positive. Specifically, G4 folding was observed to be inhibited by the presence of multiple-cytosine tracks, located in the candidate's genomic context, that adopted a Watson-Crick base-paired structure. Clearly, the neighbouring sequences of a PG4 may influence its folding. The secondary structure of 12 PG4 motifs along with either 15 or 50 nucleotides of their upstream and downstream genomic contexts were evaluated by in-line probing. Data permitted the development of a scoring system for the prediction of PG4s taking into account the effect of the neighbouring sequences. The accuracy of this scoring system was assessed by probing 14 other novel PG4 candidates retrieved in human 5'-UTRs. This new scoring system can be used, in combination with the standard algorithm, to better predict the folding of RNA G4s.

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