The hierarchical process of guanosine (G) self-assembly, leading in aqueous solution and in the presence of metal cations to the formation of G-quadruplexes, represents an intriguing topic both for the biological correlation with telomerase activity and for the nano-technological applications, as demonstrated by the current measured in a quadruplex wire 100 nm long. Similar to G-rich DNA sequences and G-oligonucleotides, the guanosine 5′-monophosphate (GMP) self-aggregates in water to form quadruplexes. However, due to the absence of a covalent axial backbone, this system can be very useful to understand the chemical-physical conditions that govern the guanosine supramolecular aggregation. We have then investigated by in-solution Synchrotron Small Angle X-ray Scattering technique the role of different cations in promoting the quadruplex formation as a function of concentration and temperature. Results show how potassium, with its peculiar biological traits, favours the G-quadruplex elongation process in respect to other cations (Na
, but also NH
), determining the longest particles in solution. Moreover, the formation and the elongation of G-quadruplexes have been demonstrated to be controlled by both GMP concentration and excess cation content, even if they specifically contribute to these processes in different ways. The occurrence of condensed liquid crystalline phases was also detected, proving that excess cations play also unspecific effects on the effective charges on the G-quadruplex surface.
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