ABSTRACT: Molecular mechanisms that regulate gene expression can occur either before or after transcription. The information for post-transcriptional regulation can lie within the sequence or structure of the RNA transcript and it has been proposed that G-quadruplex nucleic acid sequence motifs may regulate translation as well as transcription. Here, we have explored the incidence of G-quadruplex motifs in and around the untranslated regions (UTRs) of mRNA. We observed a significant strand asymmetry, consistent with a general depletion of G-quadruplex-forming RNA. We also observed a positional bias in two distinct regions, each suggestive of a specific function. We observed an excess of G-quadruplex motifs towards the 5'-ends of 5'-UTRs, supportive of a hypothesis linking 5'-UTR RNA G-quadruplexes to translational control. We then analysed the vicinity of 3'-UTRs and observed an over-representation of G-quadruplex motifs immediately after the 3'-end of genes, especially in those cases where another gene is in close proximity, suggesting that G-quadruplexes may be involved in the termination of gene transcription.
Project description:Guanine-rich nucleic acid sequences can form four-stranded structures called G-quadruplexes. Previous studies showed that transfecting G-quadruplex DNA oligonucleotides inhibits proliferation in many cancer cell lines and can induce apoptosis. However, little is known about the effects of transfecting RNA quadruplexes. In this study, we transfected a G-quadruplex RNA oligonucleotide (GqRNA) into HEK293T cells and observed that it did not alter cell viability. Subsequent transcriptome expression profiling revealed that only two genes, EGR1 and FOS, were significantly altered in the presence of GqRNA (upregulated 2- to 4-fold). Sequence analysis showed that both genes contained putative quadruplex sequences (PQS) in their 3'-UTRs, immediately adjacent to the stop codons. Transfection of the EGR1 PQS as an RNA oligonucleotide also caused an increase in EGR1 expression. Similar motifs are found in a variety of genomes, but are relatively rare and have been missed by previous annotations. A bioinformatic analysis revealed stop codon-proximal enrichment of such motifs compared with the rest of the 3'-UTR, although these genes were not affected by RNA quadruplex transfection, and their function remains unknown. Overall, transfecting RNA quadruplexes results in relatively few alterations in gene expression.
Project description:Four-stranded DNA and RNA quadruplexes or G4 motifs are non-B DNA conformations that are presumed to form in vivo, although only few explicit evidence has been reported. Using bioinformatics the presence of putative DNA G-quadruplexes within critical promoter regions has been demonstrated and a regulatory role in transcription has been suspected. However, in genomic DNA the presence of the complementary strand interferes with the potential to form a quadruplex motif. Contrarily RNA G4 motifs have no such limitation and consequently strong interference with gene expression is suspected. Nevertheless, experimental evidence is scarce. Here we show a well-defined structure-function relationship of synthetic quadruplex sequences in 5'-UTRs in multiple mammalian cell-lines. We establish a universal 'translational suppressor' effect of these motifs on gene expression at the translational level and show for the first time that specific features such as loop-length and the number of 'GGG'-repeats further determine the suppressive impact. Moreover, a consistent and predictable repression of gene expression is observed for naturally occurring RNA G4 motifs, augmenting the functional relevance of these unusual nucleic acid structures.
Project description:G-quadruplexes are naturally-occurring structures found in RNAs and DNAs. Regular RNA G-quadruplexes are highly stable due to stacked planar arrangements connected by short loops. However, reports of irregular quadruplex structures are increasing and recent genome-wide studies suggest that they influence gene expression. We have investigated a grouping of G2-motifs in the UTRs of eight genes involved in polyamine biosynthesis, and concluded that several likely form novel metastable RNA G-quadruplexes. We performed a comprehensive biophysical characterization of their properties, comparing them to a reference G-quadruplex. Using cellular assays, together with polyamine-depleting and quadruplex-stabilizing ligands, we discovered how some of these motifs regulate and sense polyamine levels, creating feedback loops during polyamine biosynthesis. Using high-resolution 1H-NMR spectroscopy, we demonstrated that a long-looped quadruplex in the AZIN1 mRNA co-exists in salt-dependent equilibria with a hairpin structure. This study expands the repertoire of regulatory G-quadruplexes and demonstrates how they act in unison to control metabolite homeostasis.
Project description:RNA structures in the untranslated regions (UTRs) of mRNAs influence post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Much of the knowledge in this area depends on canonical double-stranded RNA elements. There has been considerable recent advancement of our understanding of guanine(G)-rich nucleic acids sequences that form four-stranded structures, called G-quadruplexes. While much of the research has been focused on DNA G-quadruplexes, there has recently been a rapid emergence of interest in RNA G-quadruplexes, particularly in the 5'-UTRs of mRNAs. Collectively, these studies suggest that RNA G-quadruplexes exist in the 5'-UTRs of many genes, including genes of clinical interest, and that such structural elements can influence translation. This review features the progresses in the study of 5'-UTR RNA G-quadruplex-mediated translational control. It covers computational analysis, cell-free, cell-based and chemical biology studies that have sought to elucidate the roles of RNA G-quadruplexes in both cap-dependent and -independent regulation of mRNA translation. We also discuss protein trans-acting factors that have been implicated and the evidence that such RNA motifs have potential as small molecule target. Finally, we close the review with a perspective on the future challenges in the field of 5'-UTR RNA G-quadruplex-mediated translation regulation.
Project description:Increased activity of the mRNA helicase eIF4A drives cellular malignancy by reprogramming cellular translation, and eIF4A activity is the direct or indirect target of many emerging cancer therapeutics. The enriched presence of (GGC)4 motifs, which have the potential to fold into two-layered G-quadruplexes, within the 5'UTRs of eIF4A-dependent mRNAs suggests that eIF4A is required for the unwinding of these structures within these eIF4A-controlled mRNAs. However, the existence of folded G-quadruplexes within cells remains controversial, and G-quadruplex folding is in direct competition with classical Watson-Crick based secondary structures. Using a combination of reverse transcription stalling assays and 7-deazaguanine incorporation experiments we find that (GGC)4 motifs preferentially form classical secondary structures rather than G-quadruplexes in full-length mRNAs. Furthermore, using translation assays with the eIF4A inhibitor hippuristanol, both in vitro and in cells, we find that eIF4A activity alleviates translational repression of mRNAs with 5'UTR classical secondary structures significantly more than those with folded G-quadruplexes. This was particularly evident in experiments using a G-quadruplex stabilizing ligand, where shifting the structural equilibrium in favour of G-quadruplex formation diminishes eIF4A-dependency. This suggests that enrichment of (GGC)4 motifs in the 5'UTRs of eIF4A-dependent mRNAs is due to the formation of stable hairpin structures rather than G-quadruplexes.
Project description:Certain G-rich DNA sequences readily form four-stranded structures called G-quadruplexes. These sequence motifs are located in telomeres as a repeated unit, and elsewhere in the genome, where their function is currently unknown. It has been proposed that G-quadruplexes may be directly involved in gene regulation at the level of transcription. In support of this hypothesis, we show that the promoter regions (1 kb upstream of the transcription start site TSS) of genes are significantly enriched in quadruplex motifs relative to the rest of the genome, with >40% of human gene promoters containing one or more quadruplex motif. Furthermore, these promoter quadruplexes strongly associate with nuclease hypersensitive sites identified throughout the genome via biochemical measurement. Regions of the human genome that are both nuclease hypersensitive and within promoters show a remarkable (230-fold) enrichment of quadruplex elements, compared to the rest of the genome. These quadruplex motifs identified in promoter regions also show an interesting structural bias towards more stable forms. These observations support the proposal that promoter G-quadruplexes are directly involved in the regulation of gene expression.
Project description:G-quadruplex structures are composed of coplanar guanines and are found in both DNA and RNA. They are formed by the stacking of two or more G-quartets that are linked together by three loops. The current belief is that RNA G-quadruplexes include loops of l to 7 nucleotides in length, although recent evidence indicates that the central loop (loop 2) can be longer if loops 1 and 3 are limited to a single nucleotide each. With the objective of broadening the definition of irregular RNA G-quadruplexes, a bioinformatic search was performed to find potential G-quadruplexes located in the untranslated regions of human mRNAs (i.e. in the 5' and 3'-UTRs) that contain either a long loop 1 or 3 of up to 40 nucleotides in length. RNA molecules including the potential sequences were then synthesized and examined in vitro by in-line probing for the formation of G-quadruplex structures. The sequences that adopted a G-quadruplex structure were cloned into a luciferase dual vector and examined for their ability to modulate translation in cellulo Some irregular G-quadruplexes were observed to either promote or repress translation regardless of the position or the size of the long loop they possessed. Even if the composition of a RNA G-quadruplex is not quite completely understood, the results presented in this report clearly demonstrate that what defines a RNA G-quadruplex is much broader than what we previously believed.
Project description:G-quadruplex (G4) sequences are abundant in untranslated regions (UTRs) of human messenger RNAs, but their functional importance remains unclear. By integrating multiple sources of genetic and genomic data, we show that putative G-quadruplex forming sequences (pG4) in 5' and 3' UTRs are selectively constrained, and enriched for cis-eQTLs and RNA-binding protein (RBP) interactions. Using over 15,000 whole-genome sequences, we find that negative selection acting on central guanines of UTR pG4s is comparable to that of missense variation in protein-coding sequences. At multiple GWAS-implicated SNPs within pG4 UTR sequences, we find robust allelic imbalance in gene expression across diverse tissue contexts in GTEx, suggesting that variants affecting G-quadruplex formation within UTRs may also contribute to phenotypic variation. Our results establish UTR G4s as important cis-regulatory elements and point to a link between disruption of UTR pG4 and disease.
Project description:In most eukaryotes, telomeric DNA consists of repeats of a short motif that includes consecutive guanines and may hence fold into G-quadruplexes. Budding yeasts have telomeres composed of longer repeats and show variation in the degree of repeat homogeneity. Although telomeric sequences from several organisms have been shown to fold into G-quadruplexes in vitro, surprisingly, no study has been dedicated to the comparison of G-quadruplex folding and stability of known telomeric sequences. Furthermore, to our knowledge, folding of yeast telomeric sequences into intramolecular G-quadruplexes has never been investigated. Using biophysical and biochemical methods, we studied sequences mimicking about four repetitions of telomeric motifs from a variety of organisms, including yeasts, with the aim of comparing the G-quadruplex folding potential of telomeric sequences among eukaryotes. G-quadruplex folding did not appear to be a conserved feature among yeast telomeric sequences. By contrast, all known telomeric sequences from eukaryotes other than yeasts folded into G-quadruplexes. Nevertheless, while G(3)T(1-4)A repeats (found in a variety of organisms) and G(4)T(2,4) repeats (found in ciliates) folded into stable G-quadruplexes, G-quadruplexes formed by repetitions of G(2)T(2)A and G(2)CT(2)A motifs (found in many insects and in nematodes, respectively) appeared to be in equilibrium with non-G-quadruplex structures (likely hairpin-duplexes).
Project description:A study on binding of antitumor chelerythrine to human telomeric DNA/RNA G-quadruplexes was performed by using DNA polymerase stop assay, UV-melting, ESI-TOF-MS, UV-Vis absorption spectrophotometry and fluorescent triazole orange displacement assay. Chelerythrine selectively binds to and stabilizes the K(+)-form hybrid-type human telomeric DNA G-quadruplex of biological significance, compared with the Na(+)-form antiparallel-type DNA G-quadruplex. ESI-TOF-MS study showed that chelerythrine possesses a binding strength for DNA G-quadruplex comparable to that of TMPyP4 tetrachloride. Both 1:1 and 2:1 stoichiometries were observed for chelerythrine's binding with DNA and RNA G-quadruplexes. The binding strength of chelerythrine with RNA G-quadruplex is stronger than that with DNA G-quadruplex. Fluorescent triazole orange displacement assay revealed that chelerythrine interacts with human telomeric RNA/DNA G-quadruplexes by the mode of end- stacking. The relative binding strength of chelerythrine for human telomeric RNA and DNA G-quadruplexes obtained from ESI-TOF-MS experiments are respectively 6.0- and 2.5-fold tighter than that with human telomeric double-stranded hairpin DNA. The binding selectivity of chelerythrine for the biologically significant K(+)-form human telomeric DNA G-quadruplex over the Na(+)-form analogue, and binding specificity for human telomeric RNA G-quadruplex established it as a promising candidate in the structure-based design and development of G-quadruplex specific ligands.