Quadruplex Ligands in Cancer Therapy
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Nucleic acids can adopt alternative secondary conformations including four-stranded structures known as quadruplexes. To date, quadruplexes have been demonstrated to exist both in human chromatin DNA and RNA. In particular, quadruplexes are found in guanine-rich sequences constituting G-quadruplexes, and in cytosine-rich sequences forming i-Motifs as a counterpart. Quadruplexes are associated with key biological processes ranging from transcription and translation of several oncogenes and tumor suppressors to telomeres maintenance and genome instability. In this context, quadruplexes have prompted investigations on their possible role in cancer biology and the evaluation of small-molecule ligands as potential therapeutic agents. This review aims to provide an updated close-up view of the literature on quadruplex ligands in cancer therapy, by grouping together ligands for DNA and RNA G-quadruplexes and DNA i-Motifs.