The proximal promoter region of the human vascular endothelial growth factor gene has a G-quadruplex structure that can be targeted by G-quadruplex-interactive agents

Daekyu Sun, Wei Jun Liu, Kexiao Guo, Jadrian J. Rusche, Scot Ebbinghaus, Vijay Gokhale, Laurence Hurley

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114 Scopus citations


Previous studies on the functional analysis of the human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) promoter using the full-length VEGF promoter reporter revealed that the proximal 36-bp region (-85 to -50 relative to transcription initiation site) is essential for basal or inducible VEGF promoter activity in several human cancer cells. This region consists of a polypurine (guanine) tract that contains four runs of at least three contiguous guanines separated by one or more bases, thus conforming to a general motif capable of forming an intramolecular G-quadruplex. Here, we show that the G-rich strand in this region is able to form an intramolecular propeller-type parallel-stranded G-quadruplex structure in vitro by using the electrophoretic mobility shift assay, dimethyl sulfate footprinting technique, the DNA polymerase stop assay, circular dichroism spectroscopy, and computer-aided molecular modeling. Two well-known G-quadruplex-interactive agents, TMPyP4and Se2SAP, stabilize G-quadruplex structures formed by this sequence in the presence of a potassium ion, although Se2SAP is at least 10-fold more effective in binding to the G-quadruplex than TMPyP4. Between these two agents, Se2SAP better suppresses VEGF transcription in different cancer cell lines, including HEC1A and MDA-MB-231. Collectively, our results provide evidence that specific G-quadruplex structures can be formed in the VEGF promoter region, and that the transcription of this gene can be controlled by ligand-mediated G-quadruplex stabilization. Our results also provide further support for the idea that G-quadruplex structures may play structural roles in vivo and therefore might provide insight into novel methodologies for rational drug design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)880-889
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology

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