IMR Press / FBL / Volume 12 / Issue 7 / DOI: 10.2741/2399

Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Open Access Article
Z-DNA, an active element in the genome
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1 Department of Carcinogenesis, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Science Park-Research Division, Smithville, TX 78957, USA
Academic Editor:Sergei Mirkin
Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2007, 12(7), 4424–4438; https://doi.org/10.2741/2399
Published: 1 May 2007
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA structures, genome instability and human disease)
Abstract

Z-DNA is a left-handed helical form of DNA in which the double helix winds to the left in a zigzag pattern. DNA containing alternating purine and pyrimidine repeat tracts have the potential to adopt this non-B structure in vivo under physiological conditions, particularly in actively transcribed regions of the genome. Z-DNA is thought to play a role in the regulation of gene expression; Z-DNA is also thought to be involved in DNA processing events and/or genetic instability. For example, Z-DNA-forming sequences have the potential to enhance the frequencies of recombination, deletion, and translocation events in cellular systems. Although the biological function(s) of Z-DNA and related Z-DNA-binding proteins are not fully understood, accumulating experimental and clinical evidence support the idea that this non-B DNA conformation is involved in several important biological processes and may provide a target for the prevention and treatment of some human diseases. In this review, we discuss the properties of Z-DNA, proteins that are known to bind specifically to Z-DNA, and potential biological functions of this non-canonical DNA structure.

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