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Biochemistry. 2020 Feb 4;59(4):379-388. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.9b00493. Epub 2019 Dec 23.

Determination of a Structural Ensemble Representing the Dynamics of a G-Quadruplex DNA.

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Department of Chemistry , University of Cambridge , Cambridge CB2 1EW , U.K.
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) , Barcelona Institute for Science and Technology (BIST) , 08028 Barcelona , Spain.
Joint BSC-CRG-IRB Research Program in Computational Biology , 08028 Barcelona , Spain.
Department of Biochemistry and Biomedicine , University of Barcelona , 08028 Barcelona , Spain.


It is increasingly recognized that the structures and dynamics of G-quadruplex DNA molecules are dictated by their sequences and greatly affected by environmental factors. The core guanine tetrads (G-tetrads) coordinate cations and display a strong conformational rigidity compared with that of the connecting loops. Although long loops linking the G-tetrads are typically disfavored, when present, they provide a striking illustration of the dynamics of short, single-stranded DNA regions. In addition to their role in determining the stability of the G-quadruplex state, these loops are also interesting as potential drug targets. To characterize accurately the dynamics of this DNA state, we apply here the principles of structural ensemble determination developed in the past two decades for protein molecules to DNA molecules. We thus perform extensive molecular dynamics simulations restrained with nuclear magnetic resonance residual dipolar couplings to determine a structural ensemble of the human CEB25 minisatellite G-quadruplex, which contains a connecting loop of nine nucleotides. This structural ensemble displays a wide set of arrangements for the loop and a compact, well-defined G-quadruplex core. Our results show the importance of stacking interactions in the loop and strengthen the ability of the closing base pairs to confer a large thermodynamic stability to the G-quadruplex structure.

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