Published on Journal of The American Chemical Society (15 August 2023)
Author(s): Xi Mou and Chun Kit Kwok
G-quadruplexes (G4s) are noncanonical secondary structures that play critical roles in both chemistry and biology. Although several approaches have been developed for G4 targeting, such as chemicals and antibodies, there is currently no general and efficient platform for G4-specific peptides. In this study, we developed a new platform, G4-mRNA display-Seq, for selecting peptides that specifically recognize the G4 target of interest. By using an RNA G4 (rG4) found in human telomerase RNA (hTERC) as the target, we have identified a novel short peptide, namely, peptide 11 (pep11), which displays high affinity and selectivity to hTERC rG4. Furthermore, we designed tandem and cyclic versions of pep11 and found that both modified versions exhibit stronger binding affinity with preferential rG4 selectivity. Notably, we have demonstrated that these peptides can negatively regulate gene expression by targeting rG4. Our results provide a universal platform for the discovery of G4-targeting peptides and demonstrate the ability of these peptides to regulate G4-mediated gene functions.