Mapping and characterization of G-quadruplexes in Mycobacterium tuberculosis gene promoter regions

Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 18;7(1):5743. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05867-z.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide in 2015. The recent emergence of strains resistant to all current drugs urges the development of compounds with new mechanisms of action. G-quadruplexes are nucleic acids secondary structures that may form in G-rich regions to epigenetically regulate cellular functions. Here we implemented a computational tool to scan the presence of putative G-quadruplex forming sequences in the genome of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and analyse their association to transcription start sites. We found that the most stable G-quadruplexes were in the promoter region of genes belonging to definite functional categories. Actual G-quadruplex folding of four selected sequences was assessed by biophysical and biomolecular techniques: all molecules formed stable G-quadruplexes, which were further stabilized by two G-quadruplex ligands. These compounds inhibited Mycobacterium tuberculosis growth with minimal inhibitory concentrations in the low micromolar range. These data support formation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis G-quadruplexes in vivo and their potential regulation of gene transcription, and prompt the use of G4 ligands to develop original antitubercular agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / metabolism
  • Antitubercular Agents / pharmacology
  • Computational Biology
  • G-Quadruplexes*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*


  • Antitubercular Agents