Site-Specific Fluorophore Labeling of Guanosines in RNA G-Quadruplexes

ACS Omega. 2019 May 14;4(5):8472-8479. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.9b00704. eCollection 2019 May 31.


RNA G-quadruplexes are RNA secondary structures that are implicated in many cellular processes. Although conventional biophysical techniques are widely used for their in vitro characterization, more advanced methods are needed to study complex equilibria and the kinetics of their folding. We have developed a new Förster resonance energy-transfer-based method to detect the folding of RNA G-quadruplexes, which is enabled by labeling the 2'-positions of participating guanosines with fluorophores. Importantly, this does not interfere with the required anti conformation of the nucleobase in a quadruplex with parallel topology. Sequential click reactions on the solid phase and in solution using a stop-and-go strategy circumvented the issue of unselective cross-labeling. We exemplified the method on a series of sequences under different assay conditions. In contrast to the commonly used end-labeling approach, our internal labeling strategy would also allow the study of G-quadruplex formation in long functional RNAs.