i-Motif formation and spontaneous deletions in human cells

Marianna Martella, Flavia Pichiorri, Rupesh V. Chikhale, Mahmoud A. S. Abdelhamid, Zoë A. E. Waller, Steven S. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Concatemers of d(TCCC) that were first detected through their association with deletions at the RACK7 locus, are widespread throughout the human genome. Circular dichroism spectra show that d(GGGA)n sequences form G-quadruplexes when n > 3, while i-motif structures form at d(TCCC)n sequences at neutral pH when n ≥ 7 in vitro. In the PC3 cell line, deletions are observed only when the d(TCCC)n variant is long enough to form significant levels of unresolved i-motif structure at neutral pH. The presence of an unresolved i-motif at a representative d(TCCC)n element at RACK7 was suggested by experiments showing that that the region containing the d(TCCC)9 element was susceptible to bisulfite attack in native DNA and that d(TCCC)9 oligo formed an i-motif structure at neutral pH. This in turn suggested that that the i-motif present at this site in native DNA must be susceptible to bisulfite mediated deamination even though it is a closed structure. Bisulfite deamination of the i-motif structure in the model oligodeoxynucleotide was confirmed using mass spectrometry analysis. We conclude that while G-quadruplex formation may contribute to spontaneous mutation at these sites, deletions actually require the potential for i-motif to form and remain unresolved at neutral pH.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3445–3455
Number of pages11
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number6
Early online date7 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2022

Cite this