Research published by Shankar Balaubramanian’s lab has shown that four-stranded ‘quadruple-helix’ DNA structures also exist in the human genome. These structures are also known as G-quadruplexes as they form in regions of the genome that are rich in the DNA building block guanine, shortened to ‘G’. This discovery is important as there is a link between the concentration of G-quadruplexes and the process of DNA replication, which is vital to cell division. Targetting G-quadruplexes with molecules that trap them could stop cells from replicating their DNA and therefore producing more cells, which has the potential to stop the out of control cell division that is a hallmark of cancer.

G Biffi, D Tannahill, J McCafferty and S Balasubramanian. Quantitative visualization of DNA G-quadruplex structures in human cells. Nature Chemistry, Advance Article (2012)
DOI: 10.1021/ja308665g. Abstract.

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22 Jan 2013