Telomeric repeat-containing RNA is a non-coding RNA molecule newly found in mammalian cells. The telomere RNA has been found to localize to the telomere DNA, but how the newly discovered RNA molecule interacts with telomere DNA is less known. In this study, using the click chemistry we successfully found that a 6-mer human telomere RNA and 16-mer human telomere DNA sequence can form a DNA-RNA hybrid type G-quadruplex structure. Detection of the click-reaction products directly probes DNA-RNA G-quadruplex structures in a complicated solution, whereas traditional methods such as NMR and crystallography may not be suitable. Importantly, we found that formation of DNA-RNA G-quadruplex induced an exonuclease resistance for telomere DNA, indicating that such structures might be important for protecting telomeric DNA from enzyme digestion to avoid telomere DNA shortening. These results provide the direct evidence for formation of DNA-RNA hybrid G-quadruplex structure by human telomere DNA and RNA sequence, suggesting DNA-RNA hybrid G-quadruplex structure associated between telomere DNA and RNA may respond to chromosome end protection and/or present a valuable target for drug design.
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