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Pure Appl. Chem., 2010, Vol. 82, No. 8, pp. 1609-1621

Published online 2010-06-04

The role of G-quadruplex/i-motif secondary structures as cis-acting regulatory elements

Samantha Kendrick1 and Laurence H. Hurley1,2,3*

1 Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA
2 BIO5 Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
3 College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA

Abstract: The nature of DNA has captivated scientists for more than 50 years. The discovery of the double-helix model of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953 not only established the primary structure of DNA, but also provided the mechanism behind DNA function. Since then, researchers have continued to further the understanding of DNA structure and its pivotal role in transcription. The demonstration of DNA secondary structure formation has allowed for the proposal that the dynamics of DNA itself can function to modulate transcription. This review presents evidence that DNA can exist in a dynamic equilibrium between duplex and secondary conformations. In addition, data demonstrating that intracellular proteins as well as small molecules can shift this equilibrium in either direction to alter gene transcription will be discussed, with a focus on the modulation of proto-oncogene expression.