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Recent studies indicate that i-DNA, a four-stranded cytosine-rich DNA also known as the i-motif, is actually formed in vivo ; however, a systematic study on sequence effects on stability has been missing. Herein, an unprecedented number of different sequences (271) bearing four runs of 3-6 cytosines with different spacer lengths has been tested. While i-DNA stability is nearly independent on total spacer length, the central spacer plays a special role on stability. Stability also depends on the length of the C-tracts at both acidic and neutral pHs. This study provides a global picture on i-DNA stability thanks to the large size of the introduced data set; it reveals unexpected features and allows to conclude that determinants of i-DNA stability do not mirror those of G-quadruplexes. Our results illustrate the structural roles of loops and C-tracts on i-DNA stability, confirm its formation in cells, and allow establishing rules to predict its stability.

Original publication




Journal article


Angew Chem Int Ed Engl

Publication Date



DNA, i-motif, intracellular stability, pH transition, thermal stability