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Research Highlight

Role of Mysterious Folded DNA Structures Revealed at Last

Research Highlight

Yunxi Cui, Deepak Koirala, HyunJin Kang, Soma Dhakal, Philip Yangyuoru, Laurence H. Horley and Hanbin Mao*

Nucleic Acids Research 2014

A cytosine-rich oncogene promoter sequence (bcl-2) has been observed to form i-motif and hairpin structures, which are non-canonical DNA structures different from the DNA duplex. Since these structures regulate gene expressions, especially those for cancer genes, the analysis of the equilibrium among different structures in oncogene promoter regions attracts great interest. Using mechanical unfolding in laser tweezers, we introduced a new method, molecular population dynamics (MPD), to examine not only this equilibrium, but also the influence of small molecules and a transcription factor (hnRNP LL) on the equilibrium. We observed a total of six different DNA structures in the bcl-2 promoter. The equilibrium of these species is regulated by a piperidine derivative (IMC-48), a pregnanol derivative (IMC-76), and the transcription factor, hnRNP LL. These results indicate the existence of a DNA switch mechanism similar to that observed in the riboswitch.