BMVC is the first fluorescent probe designed to detect G-quadruplexes (G4s) in vivo. The MYC oncogene promoter forms a G4 (MycG4) which acts as a transcription silencer. Here, we report the high-affinity and specific binding of BMVC to MycG4 with unusual slow-exchange rates on the NMR timescale. We also show that BMVC represses MYC in cancer cells. We determined the solution structures of the 1:1 and 2:1 BMVC-MycG4 complexes. BMVC first binds the 5′-end of MycG4 to form a 1:1 complex with a well-defined structure. At higher ratio, BMVC also binds the 3′-end to form a second complex. In both complexes, the crescent-shaped BMVC recruits a flanking DNA residue to form a BMVC-base plane stacking over the external G-tetrad. Remarkably, BMVC adjusts its conformation to a contracted form to match the G-tetrad for an optimal stacking interaction. This is the first structural example showing the importance of ligand conformational adjustment in G4 recognition. BMVC binds the more accessible 5′-end with higher affinity, whereas sequence specificity is present at the weaker-binding 3′-site. Our structures provide insights into specific recognition of MycG4 by BMVC and useful information for design of G4-targeted anticancer drugs and fluorescent probes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas