Folding of the human telomere sequence DNA in non-aqueous and otherwise viscous solvents
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G-quadruplex forming human telomere sequence (HTS) DNA, has been widely studied due to the telomere's implied role in biological processes, including cellular ageing and cancer physiology. The goal of these previous efforts has been to characterize the physiologically relevant structures and their stability and dynamics in order to develop therapeutic applications. Unfortunately, understanding the biologically relevant form of the human telomere DNA is complicated by the fact that HTS-derived sequences are highly polymorphic. To further complicate the issue, recent investigations have demonstrated the ability of "cell-like" co-solvents to alter the preferred G-quadruplex fold of HTS DNA. However, the origins of G-quadruplex structure selection, the relative contributions of crowding versus dehydration, and the possible effects of co-solvents on kinetically determined folding pathways remain unresolved. Towards answering these questions, I investigated HTS DNA G-quadruplex in extreme anhydrous and high viscosity conditions utilizing a deep eutectic solvent (DES) consisting of choline chloride and urea. Herein I report that the water-free DES supports an extremely stable parallel stranded structure, consistent with observations that diminished water activity is the main cause of structural transitions to the "parallel-propeller" form. Furthermore, my research shows that the highly viscous nature of the solvent enables significant diffusion based control over HTS g-quadruplex folding rates and topology, fully consistent with Kramers rate theory. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first example of the kinetic exploration of G-quadruplex folding utilizing high friction solvent; the results of which display a decreased intramolecular folding rate of HTS DNA to a never before encountered time scale on the order of days at physiological temperature. Moreover, I have demonstrated that the folding pathway of a G-quadruplex can be altered with increased solvent friction. These discoveries are important because they highlight the need to consider the viscosity when exploring the dynamics of human telomeres specifically drug binding and folding of G-quadruplexes in vivo where cellular viscosity has been reported to be as high as 140cP. Lastly, it appears that tuning solvent viscosity could prove useful to the continued study of G-quadruplex dynamics.