G-quadruplex DNA is a four-stranded DNA structure formed by non-Watson-Crick base pairing between stacked sets of four guanines. Many possible functions have been proposed for this structure, but its in vivo role in the cell is still largely unresolved. We carried out a genome-wide survey of the evolutionary conservation of regions with the potential to form Gquadruplex DNA structures (G4 DNA motifs) across seven yeast species. We found that G4 DNA motifs were significantly more conserved than expected by chance, and the nucleotide-level conservation patterns suggested that the motif conservation was the result of the formation of G4 DNA structures. We characterized the association of conserved and nonconserved G4 DNA motifs in Saccharomyces cerevisiae with more than 40 known genome features and gene classes. Our comprehensive, integrated evolutionary and functional analysis confirmed the previously observed associations of G4 DNA motifs with promoter regions and the rDNA, and it identified several previously unrecognized associations of G4 DNA motifs with genomic features, such as mitotic and meiotic double-strand break sites (DSBs). Conserved G4 DNA motifs maintained strong associations with promoters and the rDNA, but not with DSBs. We also performed the first analysis of G4 DNA motifs in the mitochondria, and surprisingly found a tenfold higher concentration of the motifs in the AT-rich yeast mitochondrial DNA than in nuclear DNA. The evolutionary conservation of the G4 DNA motif and its association with specific genome features supports the hypothesis that G4 DNA has in vivo functions that are under evolutionary constraint.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Modeling and Simulation
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Computational Theory and Mathematics