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Keywords:

  • atomic force microscopy;
  • DNA origami;
  • G-hairpin;
  • G-quadruplex;
  • G-triplex

Abstract

We present the direct and single-molecule visualization of the in-pathway intermediates of the G-quadruplex folding that have been inaccessible by any experimental method employed to date. Using DNA origami as a novel tool for the structural control and high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) for direct visualization, we captured images of the unprecedented solution-state structures of a tetramolecular antiparallel and (3+1)-type G-quadruplex intermediates, such as G-hairpin and G-triplex, with nanometer precision. No such structural information was reported previously with any direct or indirect technique, solution or solid-state, single-molecule or bulk studies, and at any resolution. Based on our results, we proposed a folding mechanism of these G-quadruplexes.