G-rich oligodeoxyribonucleotides: Triplexes and transcription

Ann-Joy Cheng, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Formation of a triple helix resulting from oligonucleotide binding to the DNA double helix offers new possibilities to control gene expression at the transcriptional level. Purine-motif triplexes can be formed under physiological pH. Nevertheless, this formation was inhibited by certain monovalent cations during the association but not during dissociation. Since triplexes are very stable, it was possible to assemble them in the absence of KCl and have them survive throughout the course of an in vitro transcription reaction. As for the design of a better triplex-forming oligonucleotide, 12 nucleotides in length afforded the highest binding affinity. G/T-rich oligonucleotides can be very polymorphic in solution. The conditions for forming purine-motif triplexes, duplexes or G-quartets were determined. Understanding these parameters will be important for the practical use of G-rich oligonucleotides in the development of DNA aptamers where the structure of the oligonucleotide is paramount in dictating its function. Finally, purine-motif triplexes were demonstrated to significantly inhibit gene transcription in vitro. The optimal effect on this process was dependent on the location of triplexes within the promoter, i.e., whether upstream or proximally downstream of the transcription start site. The mechanism for the inhibition of transcription appeared to be interference with initiation through preventing engagement by RNA polymerase. This finding is revolutionary when compared to the conventional model where triplexes inhibit transcription only by occluding binding by trans-acting proteins. Our findings broaden the utility of triplexes and support a strategy for antigene therapy by triplexes.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Cheng, Ann-Joy, "G-rich oligodeoxyribonucleotides: Triplexes and transcription" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9607009.