Methods of studying telomere damage induced by quadruplex-ligand complexes

Angela Rizzo, Erica Salvati, Annamaria Biroccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The burgeoning knowledge about the structure of telomeres and the roles of various factors involved in telomere maintenance provides several possible targets for pharmacological intervention. To date the area that has received major attention regarding drug discovery is the targeting the telomeric G-quadruplex (G4) structure.G4 ligands were initially designed to counteract telomerase action at telomeres. Surprisingly, their antiproliferative effects can occur in telomerase negative cells and follow kinetics, which cannot be merely explained by telomere shortening, suggesting that these compounds affect other pathways, not necessarily related to telomere biology. Impressively, it has been shown that polyaromatic compounds featuring end-stacking binding properties trigger a strong DNA damage response at telomeres. This is typical of the telomere deprotection occurring during cellular senescence or upon telomere injury.It emerged that the G4-interacting agents are more than simple telomerase inhibitors and that their direct target is rather telomere than telomerase. This review summarizes the most valid experimental approaches for studying the pharmacological telomere damage induced by G4-ligand complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • G-quadruplex ligands
  • Telomere uncapping
  • Telomeric G-quadruplex structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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