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Distinct differences in metal ion specificity of RNA and DNA G-quadruplexes

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Guiset Miserachs Helena, Donghi Daniela, Börner Richard, Johannsen Silke, Sigel Roland K. O.,
Project Metal Ions in Structure and Function of Regulatory RNAs
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal JBIC Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry
Volume (Issue) 21(8)
Page(s) 975 - 986
Title of proceedings JBIC Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry
DOI 10.1007/s00775-016-1393-4


RNA G-quadruplexes, as their well-studied DNA analogs, require the presence of cations to fold and remain stable. This is the first comprehensive study on the interaction of RNA quadruplexes with metal ions. We investigated the formation and stability of two highly conserved and biologically relevant RNA quadruplex-forming sequences (24nt-TERRA and 18nt-NRAS) in the presence of several monovalent and divalent metal ions, namely Li+, Na+, K+, Rb+, Cs+, NH4 +, Mg2+, Ca2+, Sr2+, and Ba2+. Circular dichroism was used to probe the influence of these metal ions on the folded fraction of the parallel G-quadruplexes, and UV thermal melting experiments allowed to assess the relative stability of the structures in each cationic condition. Our results show that the RNA quadruplexes are more stable than their DNA counterparts under the same buffer conditions. We have observed that the addition of mainly Na+, K+, Rb+, NH4 +, as well as Sr2+ and Ba2+ in water, shifts the equilibrium to the folded quadruplex form, whereby the NRAS sequence responds stronger than TERRA. However, only K+ and Sr2+ lead to a significant increase in the stability of the folded structures, which is consistent with their coordination to the O6 atoms from the G-quartet guanosines. Compared to the respective DNA motives, dNRAS and htelo, the RNA sequences are not stabilized by Na+ ions. Finally, the difference in response between NRAS and TERRA, as well as to the corresponding DNA sequences with respect to different metal ions, could potentially be exploited for selective targeting purposes.