N,N'-Bis[2-(1-piperidino)ethyl]-3,4,9,10-perylenetetracarboxylic diimide (PIPER), a perylene derivative, is a very potent and selective G-quadruplex DNA-interactive agent. It has been shown to inhibit DNA polymerase and telomerase by stacking externally to the G-tetrads in the G-quadruplex structures. Recently, we have demonstrated that this small molecule greatly accelerates the assembly of G-quadruplex structures in a cell-free system. In this report, we present data demonstrating that PIPER prevents the unwinding of G-quadruplex structures by yeast Sgsl helicase. Sgsl belongs to the RecQ DNA helicase family whose members include other G-quadruplex DNA unwinding helicases, such as human Bloom's syndrome and human Werner's syndrome helicases. PIPER specifically prevents the unwinding of G-quadruplex DNA but not duplex DNA by Sgsl. Competition experiments indicate that this inhibitory activity is due to the interaction of PIPER with G-quadruplex structures rather than the helicase itself. These results combined with previous studies suggest a possible mechanism of action for these G-quadruplex-interactive agents inside cells: they might induce G-quadruplex formation in G-rich regions on genomic DNA, stabilize these structures, and prevent them from being cleared by enzymes such as helicases. The G-quadruplex structures may, in turn, disrupt some critical cellular events such as DNA replication, transcription regulation, and telomere maintenance.
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