G-quadruplexes: Emerging roles in neurodegenerative diseases and the non-coding transcriptome

FEBS Lett. 2015 Jun 22;589(14):1653-68. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2015.05.003. Epub 2015 May 13.


G-rich sequences in DNA and RNA have a propensity to fold into stable secondary structures termed G-quadruplexes. G-quadruplex forming sequences are widespread throughout the human genome, within both, protein coding and non-coding genes, and regulatory regions. G-quadruplexes have been implicated in multiple cellular functions including chromatin epigenetic regulation, DNA recombination, transcriptional regulation of gene promoters and enhancers, and translation. Here we will review the evidence for the occurrence of G-quadruplexes both in vitro and in vivo; their role in neurological diseases including G-quadruplex-forming repeat expansions in the C9orf72 gene in frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and loss of the G-quadruplex binding protein FMRP in the intellectual disability fragile X syndrome. We also review mounting evidence that supports a role for G-quadruplexes in regulating the processing or function of a range of non-coding RNAs. Finally we will highlight current perspectives for therapeutic interventions that target G-quadruplexes.

Keywords: G-quadruplex; Neurodegenerative diseases; Non-coding RNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • G-Quadruplexes*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics*
  • Transcriptome*