Abstract

Repeat tracts of guanine bases found in DNA and RNA can form tetraplex structures in the presence of a variety of monovalent cations. Evidence suggests that guanine tetraplexes assume important functions within chromosomal telomeres, immunoglobulin switch regions, and the human immunodeficiency virus genome. The structure of a parallel-stranded tetraplex formed by the hexanucleotide d(TG4T) and stabilized by sodium cations was determined by x-ray crystallography to 1.2 angstroms resolution. Sharply resolved sodium cations were found between and within planes of hydrogen-bonded guanine quartets, and an ordered groove hydration was observed. Distinct intra- and intermolecular stacking arrangements were adopted by the guanine quartets. Thymine bases were exclusively involved in making extensive lattice contacts.

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