* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received December 6, 2007; Revision received January 29, 2008
G-Quadruplexes are four-stranded DNA structures that play important regulatory roles in the maintenance of telomere length by inhibiting telomerase activity. Telomeres are specialized functional DNA-protein structures consisting of a variable number of tandem G-rich repeats together with a group of specific proteins. Telomere losses during cell replication are compensated by telomerase, which adds telomeric repeats onto the chromosome ends in the presence of its substrate--the 3´-overhang. Recently, quadruplexes have been considered as a potential therapeutic target for human cancer because they can inhibit telomerase activity, and some quadruplex-interacting drugs can induce senescence and apoptosis of cancer cells. In addition, due to the potassium preference to the other cations, especially sodium ions, quadruplexes have been suggested for developing potassium detection probes with higher sensitivity and selectivity. This review will illustrate these two aspects to provide further understanding of G-quadruplex structures.
KEY WORDS: G-quadruplex, G-quadruplex-interacting ligand, telomere, telomerase, FRET, potassium detection