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Biological Chemistry

RNA Can Adopt Cubelike Fold

Proposed RNA G-quadruplex conformations have been confirmed for the first time

by Stu Borman
November 25, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 47

DNA at chromosome ends and other cellular locations can fold into cubelike conformations called G-quadruplexes, and these structures may play a role in cancer development. Researchers had proposed that RNA G-quadruplexes exist in cells as well, but evidence was scarce. Now, Shankar Balasubramanian of the University of Cambridge and coworkers have confirmed the presence of the RNA structures in cells by trapping them with G-quadruplex-specific antibodies (Nat. Chem. 2013, DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1805). They used the antibodies to fluorescently label and image the RNA structures and identified small molecules that bind and sequester them. “Our findings provide substantive evidence for the presence of RNA G-quadruplex structures within the human transcriptome,” the team says. The biological function of these structures isn’t known yet, but the new study is an important first step toward being able to determine what role they play in cells.

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