Metalloporphyrin/G-quadruplexes: From basic properties to practical applications

Eyal Golub, Chun Hua Lu, Itamar Willner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Guanine-rich single-stranded nucleic acids self-assemble into G-quadruplex nanostructures (predominately in the presence of K+-ions). Metalloporphyrins bind to the G-quadruplex nanostructures to form supramolecular assemblies exhibiting unique catalytic, electrocatalytic and photophysical properties. This paper addresses the advances in the characterization and the implementation of the metalloporphyrin/G-quadruplexes complexes for various applications. Out of the different complexes, the most extensively studied complexes are the hemin/G-quadruplex horseradish peroxidase-mimicking DNAzyme and the Zn(II)-protoporphyrin IX-functionalized G-quadruplex. Specifically, the hemin/Gquadruplex was found to act as a catalyst for driving different chemical transformations that mimic the native horseradish peroxidase enzyme, and, also, to function as an electrocatalyst for the reduction of H2O2. Also, the hemin/G-quadruplex stimulates interesting photophysical and photocatalytic processes such as the electron-transfer quenching of semiconductor quantum dots or the chemiluminescence resonance energy transfer to semiconductor quantum dots. Alternatively, Zn(II)-protoporphyrin IX associated with G-quadruplexes exhibit intensified fluorescence properties. Beyond the straight forward application of the metalloporphyrin/G-quadruplexes as catalysts that stimulate different chemical transformations, the specific catalytic, electrocatalytic and photocatalytic functions of hemin/G-quadruplexes are heavily implemented to develop sophisticated colorimetric, electrochemical, and optical sensing platforms. Also, the unique fluorescence properties of Zn(II)-protoporphyrin IX-functionalized G-quadruplexes are applied to develop fluorescence sensing platforms. The article exemplifies different sensing assays for analyzing DNA, ligand-aptamer complexes and telomerase activity using the metalloporphyrins/Gquadruplexes as transducing labels. Also, the use of the hemin/G-quadruplex as a probe to follow the operations of DNA machines is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-91
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Our research on G-quadruplexes is supported by the Israel Science Foundation and the Future Emerging Technologies project, MULTI (317707), of the European Community Seventh Framework Programme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 World Scientific Publishing Company.


  • DNA
  • DNAzyme
  • aptamer
  • catalyst
  • chemiluminescence
  • fluorescence
  • hemin
  • sensor
  • telomerase


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