G-quadruplexes induce apoptosis in tumor cells

Haiyan Qi, Chao Po Lin, Xuan Fu, Laurence M. Wood, Angela A. Liu, Yuan Chin Tsai, Yongjie Chen, Christopher M. Barbieri, Daniel S. Pilch, Leroy F. Liu

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69 Citations (Scopus)


Several G-rich oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs), which are capable of forming G-quadruplexes, have been shown to exhibit antiproliferative activity against tumor cell lines and antitumor activity in nude mice carrying prostate and breast tumor xenografts. However, the molecular basis for their antitumor activity remains unclear. In the current study, we showed that a variety of telomeric G-tail oligodeoxynucleotides (TG-ODNs) exhibited antiproliferative activity against many tumor cells in culture. Systematic mutational analysis of the TG-ODNs suggests that the antiproliferative activity depends on the G-quadruplex conformation of these TG-ODNs. TG-ODNs were also shown to induce poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 cleavage, phosphatidylserine flipping, and caspase activation, indicative of induction of apoptosis. TG-ODN-induced apoptosis was largely ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) dependent. Furthermore, TG-ODN-induced apoptosis was inhibited by the c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor SP600125. Indeed, TG-ODNs were shown to activate the JNK pathway in an ATM-dependent manner as evidenced by elevated phosphorylation of JNK and c-Jun. Interestingly, a number of G-quadruplex ODNs (GQ-ODN) derived from nontelomeric sequences also induced ATM/JNK-dependent apoptosis, suggesting a possible common mechanism of tumor cell killing by GQ-ODNs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11808-11816
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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