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Telomere Function and the G-Quadruplex Formation are Regulated by hnRNP U

Journal article
Authors H. Izumi
Keiko Funa
Published in Cells
Volume 8
Issue 5
ISSN 2073-4409
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Language en
Keywords telomeres, hnRNP U, G-quadruplex, ssTel-oligonucleotide, Tel-oligonucleotide, RPA, binding-protein, DNA, length, protection, terra, Cell Biology
Subject categories Cell biology and genome research


We examine the role of the heterogenous ribonucleoprotein U (hnRNP U) as a G-quadruplex binding protein in human cell lines. Hypothesizing that hnRNP U is associated with telomeres, we investigate what other telomere-related functions it may have. Telomeric G-quadruplexes have been fully characterized in vitro, but until now no clear evidence of their function or in vivo interactions with proteins has been revealed in mammalian cells. Techniques used were immunoprecipitation, DNA pull-down, binding assay, and Western blots. We identified hnRNP U as a G-quadruplex binding protein. Immunoprecipitations disclosed that endogenous hnRNP U associates with telomeres, and DNA pull-downs showed that the hnRNP U C-terminus specifically binds telomeric G-quadruplexes. We have compared the effect of telomere repeat containing RNA (TERRA) on binding between hnRNP U and telomeric (Tel) or single- stranded Tel (ssTel) oligonucleotides and found that ssTel binds stronger to TERRA than to Tel. We also show that hnRNP U prevents replication protein A (RPA) accumulation at telomeres, and the recognition of telomeric ends by hnRNP suggests that a G-quadruplex promoting protein regulates its accessibility. Thus, hnRNP U-mediated formation has important functions for telomere biology.

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