The formation of a guanine quadruplex DNA structure (G4) is known to repress the expression of certain cancer-related genes. Consequently, a mutated G4 sequence can affect quadruplex formation and induce cancer progression. In this study, we developed an oligonucleotide derivative consisting of a ligand-containing guanine tract that replaces the mutated G4 guanine tract at the promoter of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene. A ligand moiety consisting of three types of polyaromatic hydrocarbons, pyrene, anthracene, and perylene, was attached to either the 3′ or 5′ end of the guanine tract. Each of the ligand-conjugated guanine tracts, with the exception of anthracene derivatives, combined with other intact guanine tracts to form an intermolecular G4 on the mutated VEGF promoter. This intermolecular G4, exhibiting parallel topology and high thermal stability, enabled VEGF G4 formation to be recovered from the mutated sequence. Stability of the intramolecular G4 increased with the size of the conjugated ligand. However, suppression of intermolecular G4 replication was uniquely dependent on whether the ligand was attached to the 3′ or 5′ end of the guanine tract. These results indicate that binding to either the top or bottom guanine quartet affects unfolding kinetics due to polarization in DNA polymerase processivity. Our findings provide a novel strategy for recovering G4 formation in case of damage, and fine-tuning processes such as replication and transcription.
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