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G-Quadruplexes: More Than Just a Kink in Microbial Genomes

Saranathan, Nandhini, Vivekanandan, Perumal
Trends in microbiology 2019 v.27 no.2 pp. 148-163
DNA, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, Human herpesvirus 4, RNA, antigenic variation, bacteria, drug therapy, fungi, genes, immune evasion, nucleotide sequences, radiation resistance, virus replication, viruses
G-quadruplexes (G4s) are noncanonical nucleic acid secondary structures formed by guanine-rich DNA and RNA sequences. In this review we aim to provide an overview of the biological roles of G4s in microbial genomes with emphasis on recent discoveries. G4s are enriched and conserved in the regulatory regions of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Importantly, G4s in hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) genomes modulate genes crucial for virus replication. Recent studies on Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) shed light on the role of G4s within the microbial transcripts as cis-acting regulatory signals that modulate translation and facilitate immune evasion. Furthermore, G4s in microbial genomes have been linked to radioresistance, antigenic variation, recombination, and latency. G4s in microbial genomes represent novel therapeutic targets for antimicrobial therapy.