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Chem Biol. 2014 Nov 20;21(11):1511-21. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2014.09.014.

A matter of location: influence of G-quadruplexes on Escherichia coli gene expression.


We provide important insights into secondary-structure-mediated regulation of gene expression in Escherichia coli. In a comprehensive survey, we show that the strand orientation and the exact position of a G-quadruplex sequence strongly influence its effect on transcription and translation. We generated a series of reporter gene constructs that contained systematically varied positions of quadruplexes and respective control sequences inserted into several positions within the promoter, 50-UTR, and 30-UTR regions. G-rich sequences at specific locations in the promoter and also in proximity to the ribosome-binding site (RBS) showed pronounced inhibitory effects. Additionally, we rationally designed a system where quadruplex formation showed a gene-activating behavior. Moreover, we characterized quadruplexes in proximity to the RBS that occur naturally in E. coli genes, demonstrating that some of these quadruplexes exert significant modulation of gene expression. Taken together, our data show strong position-dependent effects of quadruplex secondary structures on bacterial gene expression.

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