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The Consequences of Overlapping G‑Quadruplexes and i‑Motifs in the Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor β Core Promoter Nuclease Hypersensitive Element Can Explain the Unexpected Effects of Mutations and Provide Opportunities for Selective Targeting of Both Structures by Small Molecules To Downregulate Gene Expression

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journal contribution
posted on 04.05.2017 by Robert V. Brown, Ting Wang, Venkateshwar Reddy Chappeta, Guanhui Wu, Buket Onel, Reena Chawla, Hector Quijada, Sara M. Camp, Eddie T. Chiang, Quinea R. Lassiter, Carmen Lee, Shivani Phanse, Megan A. Turnidge, Ping Zhao, Joe G. N. Garcia, Vijay Gokhale, Danzhou Yang, Laurence H. Hurley
The platelet-derived growth factor receptor β (PDGFR-β) signaling pathway is a validated and important target for the treatment of certain malignant and nonmalignant pathologies. We previously identified a G-quadruplex-forming nuclease hypersensitive element (NHE) in the human PDGFR-β promoter that putatively forms four overlapping G-quadruplexes. Therefore, we further investigated the structures and biological roles of the G-quadruplexes and i-motifs in the PDGFR-β NHE with the ultimate goal of demonstrating an alternate and effective strategy for molecularly targeting the PDGFR-β pathway. Significantly, we show that the primary G-quadruplex receptor for repression of PDGFR-β is the 3′-end G-quadruplex, which has a GGA sequence at the 3′-end. Mutation studies using luciferase reporter plasmids highlight a novel set of G-quadruplex point mutations, some of which seem to provide conflicting results on effects on gene expression, prompting further investigation into the effect of these mutations on the i-motif-forming strand. Herein we characterize the formation of an equilibrium between at least two different i-motifs from the cytosine-rich (C-rich) sequence of the PDGFR-β NHE. The apparently conflicting mutation results can be rationalized if we take into account the single base point mutation made in a critical cytosine run in the PDGFR-β NHE that dramatically affects the equilibrium of i-motifs formed from this sequence. We identified a group of ellipticines that targets the G-quadruplexes in the PDGFR-β promoter, and from this series of compounds, we selected the ellipticine analog GSA1129, which selectively targets the 3′-end G-quadruplex, to shift the dynamic equilibrium in the full-length sequence to favor this structure. We also identified a benzothiophene-2-carboxamide (NSC309874) as a PDGFR-β i-motif-interactive compound. In vitro, GSA1129 and NSC309874 downregulate PDGFR-β promoter activity and transcript in the neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-SH at subcytotoxic cell concentrations. GSA1129 also inhibits PDGFR-β-driven cell proliferation and migration. With an established preclinical murine model of acute lung injury, we demonstrate that GSA1129 attenuates endotoxin-mediated acute lung inflammation. Our studies underscore the importance of considering the effects of point mutations on structure formation from the G- and C-rich sequences and provide further evidence for the involvement of both strands and associated structures in the control of gene expression.