By substitution of natural nucleotides by their abasic analogs (i.e., 1′,2′-dideoxyribose phosphate residue) at critically chosen positions within 27-bp DNA constructs originating from the first intron of N-myc
gene, we hindered hybridization within the guanine- and cytosine-rich central region and followed formation of non-canonical structures. The impeded hybridization between the complementary strands leads to time-dependent structural transformations of guanine-rich strand that are herein characterized with the use of solution-state NMR, CD spectroscopy, and native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Moreover, the DNA structural changes involve transformation of intra- into inter-molecular G-quadruplex structures that are thermodynamically favored. Intriguingly, the transition occurs in the presence of complementary cytosine-rich strands highlighting the inability of Watson–Crick base-pairing to preclude the transformation between G-quadruplex structures that occurs via intertwining mechanism and corroborates a role of G-quadruplex structures in DNA recombination processes.
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