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G-quadruplex structures, formed from guanine rich sequences, have previously been shown to be involved in various physiological processes including cancer-related gene expression. Furthermore, G-quadruplexes have been found in several oncogene promoter regions, and have been shown to play a role in the regulation of gene expression. The mutagenic properties of oxidative stress on DNA have been widely studied, as has the association with carcinogenesis. Guanine is the most susceptible nucleotide to oxidation, and as such, G-rich sequences that form G-quadruplexes can be viewed as potential "hot-spots" for DNA oxidation. We propose that oxidation may destabilise the G-quadruplex structure, leading to its unfolding into the duplex structure, affecting gene expression. This would imply a possible mechanism by which oxidation may impact on oncogene expression. This work investigates the effect of oxidation on two biologically relevant G-quadruplex structures through 500 ns molecular dynamics simulations on those found in the promoter regions of the c-Kit and c-Myc oncogenes. The results show oxidation having a detrimental effect on stability of the structure, substantially destabilising the c-Kit quadruplex, and with a more attenuated effect on the c-Myc quadruplex. Results are suggestive of a novel route for oxidation-mediated oncogenesis and may have wider implications for genome stability.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Computational Biology, DNA, Deoxyguanosine, G-Quadruplexes, Gene Expression Regulation, Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Oxidation-Reduction, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc