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This article is the authors’ final published version in Scientific Reports, Volume 11, Issue 1, December 2021, Article number 23213.

The published version is available at Copyright © Ozcan et al.


A nucleotide repeat expansion (NRE), (G4C2)n, located in a classically noncoding region of C9orf72 (C9), is the most common genetic mutation associated with ALS/FTD. There is increasing evidence that nucleic acid structures formed by the C9-NRE may both contribute to ALS/FTD, and serve as therapeutic targets, but there is limited characterization of these nucleic acid structures under physiologically and disease relevant conditions. Here we show in vitro that the C9-NRE DNA can form both parallel and antiparallel DNA G-quadruplex (GQ) topological structures and that the structural preference of these DNA GQs can be dependent on the molecular crowding conditions. Additionally, 5-methylcytosine DNA hypermethylation, which is observed in the C9-NRE locus in some patients, has minimal effects on GQ topological preferences. Finally, molecular dynamic simulations of methylated and nonmethylated GQ structures support in vitro data showing that DNA GQ structures formed by the C9-NRE DNA are stable, with structural fluctuations limited to the cytosine-containing loop regions. These findings provide new insight into the structural polymorphic preferences and stability of DNA GQs formed by the C9-NRE in both the methylated and nonmethylated states, as well as reveal important features to guide the development of upstream therapeutic approaches to potentially attenuate C9-NRE-linked diseases.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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