G-quadruplex DNA structures--variations on a theme

Biol Chem. 2001 Apr;382(4):621-8. doi: 10.1515/BC.2001.073.


To be functional, nucleic acids need to adopt particular three-dimensional structures. For a long time DNA was regarded as a rigid and passive molecule with the sole purpose to store genetic information, but experimental data has now accumulated that indicates the full dynamic repertoire of this macromolecule. During the last decade, four-stranded DNA structures known as G-quadruplexes, or DNA tetraplexes, have emerged as a three-dimensional structure of special interest. Motifs for the formation of G-quadruplex DNA structures are widely dispersed in eukaryotic genomes, and are abundant in regions of biological significance, for example, at telomeres, in the promoters of many important genes, and at recombination hotspots, to name but a few in man. Here I explore the plethora of G-quadruplex DNA structures, and discuss their possible biological functions as well as the proteins that interact with them.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cations / metabolism
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / chemistry
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Genome
  • Guanine Nucleotides / chemistry*
  • Guanine Nucleotides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / physiology
  • Telomere / chemistry
  • Telomere / metabolism*


  • Cations
  • Guanine Nucleotides
  • DNA