It has been reported that binding of STAT3 protein to the 5'-flanking region of the relaxin gene may result in downregulation of the relaxin expression. There is a Guanine(G)-rich segment located in about 3.8 Kb upstream of the relaxin gene and very close to the STAT3's binding site. In our study, NMR spectroscopy revealed the formation of G-quadruplex by this G-rich strand, and the result was confirmed by ESI mass spectrometry and CD spectroscopy. The theoretical structure of RLX G-quadruplex was constructed and refined by molecular modeling. When this relaxin G-quadruplex was stabilized by berberine(ΔTm = 10°C), a natural alkaloid from a Chinese herb, the gene expression could be up-regulated in a dose-dependent manner which was proved by luciferase assay. This result is different from the general G-quadruplex function that inhibiting the telomere replication or down-regulating many oncogenes expression. Therefore, our study reported a novel G-quadruplex in the relaxin gene and complemented the regulation mechanism about gene expression by G-quadruplexes.
Lin, S., Gu, H., Xu, M., Cui, X., Zhang, Y., Gao, W., & Yuan, G. (2012). The formation and stabilization of a novel G-quadruplex in the 5′-flanking region of the relaxin gene. PLoS ONE, 7(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031201