WIKIMEDIA, TenOfAllTradesResearchers at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom have reportedly identified quadruple-helix human DNA for the first time ever. Though four-stranded DNA molecules were synthesized in the lab more than 50 years ago, never before have such “G-quadruplexes,” so named because they were thought to occur in guanine-rich regions of the genome, been observed in human cells. The Cambridge scientists provide strong evidence that such four-helix DNA does exist in humans, and suggested that it may play a central role in human disease.
“It’s early days, but if we can map exactly where these G-quadruplex structures pop up in the genome, we may learn how better to control genes or other cellular processes that go awry in diseases like cancer,” study leader Shankar Balasubramanian told Nature. “That’s the long-term vision anyway.’’
Balasubramanian and his team made an antibody that bound tightly to G-quadruplex structures, but not to traditional double-helix DNA, and found that it bound to many different sites on human chromosomes in cultured tumor cells. They published their findings earlier this week (January 20) in Nature Chemistry.