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Single-molecule analysis of thymine dimer-containing G-quadruplexes formed from the human telomere sequence.

Authors: Anna H AH. Wolna, Aaron M AM. Fleming, Cynthia J CJ. Burrows
Published: 11/26/2014, Biochemistry


The human telomere plays crucial roles in maintaining genome stability. In the presence of suitable cations, the repetitive 5'-TTAGGG-3' human telomere sequence can fold into G-quadruplexes that adopt the hybrid, basket, or propeller fold. The telomere sequence is hypersensitive to UV-induced thymine dimer (T=T) formation, yet it does not cause telomere shortening. In this work, the potential structural disruption and thermodynamic stability of the T=T-containing natural telomere sequences were studied to understand why this damage is tolerated in telomeres. First, established methods, such as thermal melting measurements, electrophoretic mobility shift assays, and circular dichroism spectroscopy, were utilized to determine the effects of the damage on these structures. Second, a single-molecule ion channel recording technique using α-hemolysin (α-HL) was employed to examine further the structural differences between the damaged sequences. It was observed that the damage caused slightly lower thermal stabilities and subtle changes in the circular dichroism spectra for hybrid and basket folds. The α-HL experiments determined that T=Ts disrupt double-chain reversal loop formation but are tolerated in edgewise and diagonal loops. The largest change was observed for the T=T-containing natural telomere sequence when the propeller fold (all double-chain reversal loops) was studied. On the basis of the α-HL experiments, it was determined that a triplexlike structure exists under conditions that favor a propeller structure. The biological significance of these observations is discussed.

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