Stabilization and induction of oligonucleotide I-motif structure via graphene quantum dots

Xin Chen, Xuejiao Zhou, Ting Han, Jiaying Wu, Jingyan Zhang, Shouwu Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


DNA i-motif structures have been found in telomeric, centromeric DNA and many in the promoter region of oncogenes; thus they might be attractive targets for gene-regulation processes and anticancer therapeutics. We demonstrate in this work that i-motif structures can be stabilized by graphene quantum dots (GQDs) under acidic conditions, and more importantly GQDs can promote the formation of the i-motif structure under alkaline or physiological conditions. We illustrate that the GQDs stabilize the i-motif structure through end-stacking of the bases at its loop regions, thus reducing its solvent-accessible area. Under physiological or alkaline conditions, the end-stacking of GQDs on the unfolded structure shifts the equilibrium between the i-motif and unfolded structure toward the i-motif structure, thus promoting its formation. The possibility of fine-tuning the stability of the i-motif and inducing its formation would make GQDs useful in gene regulation and oligonucleotide-based therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-537
Number of pages7
JournalACS nano
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 22 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • end-stacking
  • graphene quantum dots
  • i-motif
  • induction
  • stabilization


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