Understanding G-Quadruplex Biology and Stability Using Single-Molecule Techniques

Publication Name

Journal of Physical Chemistry B


The link between the chemical stability of G-quadruplex (qDNA) structures and their roles in eukaryotic genomic maintenance processes has been an area of interest now for several decades. This Review seeks to demonstrate how single-molecule force-based techniques can provide insight into the mechanical stabilities of a variety of qDNA structures as well as their ability to interconvert between different conformations under conditions of stress. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and magnetic and optical tweezers have been the primary tools used in these investigations and have been used to examine both free and ligand-stabilized G-quadruplex structures. These studies have shown that the degree of stabilization of G-quadruplex structures has a significant effect on the ability of nuclear machinery to bypass these roadblocks on DNA strands. This Review will illustrate how various cellular components including replication protein A (RPA), Bloom syndrome protein (BLM), and Pif1 helicases are capable of unfolding qDNA. Techniques such as single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (smFRET), often in conjunction with the aforementioned force-based techniques, have proven extremely effective at elucidating the factors underpinning the mechanisms by which these proteins unwind qDNA structures. We will provide insight into how single-molecule tools have facilitated the direct visualization of qDNA roadblocks and also showcase results obtained from experiments designed to examine the ability of G-quadruplexes to limit the access of specific cellular proteins normally associated with telomeres.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access





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Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



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