DSSR-G4DB at http://G4.x3dna.org

Recently, while reading the Miskiewicz et al. review article How bioinformatics resources work with G4 RNAs, I noticed the term DSSR-G4DB under the category Databases with G4-related data. It refers to the website http://G4.x3dna.org (or g4.x3dna.org) that has been there since 2017 and weekly updated with new G-quadruplexes from the PDB. The DSSR-G4 resource, DSSR-Enabled Automatic Identification and Annotation of G-quadruplexes in the PDB, has already been cited several times in literature. However, I have not written up a paper on it yet, and thus have never thought carefully on a name for the resource. The term DSSR-G4DB sounds good to me, and I may well use it in the future.

Given below are the relevant quotations on DSSR and the DSSR-G4DB resource in the Miskiewicz et al. review article and my notes. The underlined headings (e.g., “Conclusion”) are those of the Miskiewicz et al. review article.

Methods: Databases with G4-related data

Currently, there exist 16 databases, which store information concerning quadruplexes. They fall into three categories: databases that collect primary or tertiary structures with experimentally verified G4s (DSSR-G4DB, G4IPDB, G4LDB, G4RNA, Lit392 and Lit638); databases storing data from high-throughput sequencing with mapped quadruplexes (GSE63874, GSE77282, GSE110582 and GSE129281); and databases of sequences with G4s identified in silico (Greglist, GRSDB2, G4-virus, Non-B DB v2.0, Plant-GQ and QuadBase2)

DSSR-G4DB [38] contains quadruplex nucleic acid structures found by DSSR in the Protein Data Bank [30], currently 354 entries. The data are annotated. Users can find information about G-tetrads, G4 helices and G4-stems and visualize the 3D models of G4 structures. Availability: webserver (http://g4.x3 dna.org). Recent update: 5 June 2020.

Note: DSSR-G4DB is updated weekly. The latest update is on 2020-09-09, with 362 G-quadruplexes auto-curated with DSSR from the PDB.

Methods: Tools that analyze and visualize 2D and 3D structure

Currently, four tools can analyze and visualize G4 structures. DSSR [38] … ElTetrado [31] … RNApdbee [66, 69] … 3D-NuS [65]

DSSR [38] processes the 3D structure of the RNA molecule and annotates its secondary structure. It is a part of the 3DNA suite [67] designed to work with the structures of nucleic acids. DSSR identifies, classifies and describes base pairs, multiplets and characteristic motifs of the secondary structure; helices, stems, hairpin loops, bulges, internal loops, junctions and others. It can also detect modules and tertiary structure patterns, includ- ing pseudoknots and kink-turns. The recent extension, DSSR- PyMOL [68], allows drawing cartoon-block schemes of the 3D structure and responds to the need for simplified visualization of quadruplexes. Input data formats: PDB, mmCIF and PDB ID. Availability: standalone program, web application (http://dssr.x3 dna.org/, http://skmatic.x3dna.org/).

Note: The other three tools all depend on or make use of DSSR and 3DNA:

  • ElTetrado “ElTetrado depends on DSSR (Lu, Bussemaker and Olson, 2015) in terms of detection of base pairing and stacking.”
  • RNApdbee uses 3DNA/DSSR as the default to identify base pairs.
  • 3D-NuS employs 3DNA for structural analysis and model building.
    “These filtrated structures (225 DNA and 166 RNA structures) have been used to derive the local base pair step and base pair parameters (Table S2 for DNA and Table S3 for RNA) using 3DNA software package [35] and are stored in the server for 3D-NuS modeling.”
    “Soon after the user submits input for sequence-specific modeling, the server fetches the appropriate base pair step and base pair parameters from the database and creates a 3DNA style input file. Subsequently, the template model is built using the rebuild module of 3DNA software package and subjected to energy optimization using X-plor [56] to remove steric hindrance, specifically in the mismatch- containing duplexes (Fig. 1).”

Results: Computational experiments with structure-based tools

DSSR and ElTetrado identified quadruplexes in the input PDB files. Both programs focused on structural aspects of the input molecule, explicitly informing about quadruplexes and tetrads within the structure. DSSR provided an extensive analysis of 3D structures and output the data about G-tetrads, G-helices and G4-stems. It computed planarity for each G-tetrad and gave the sections area, rise and twist parameters for G4-helix and G4-stems. The program automatically assigned loop topologies according to the predefined types (P—parallel, D—diagonal and L—lateral) and their orientation (+/−). DSSR-PyMOL generated block schemes of both quadruplexes (Figure 4A3 and B3). ElTetrado also calculated planarity, rise and twist parameters and identified strand directions for both quadruplexes. It classified the quadruplexes and their component tetrads to ONZ classes. Finally, it generated the arc diagram (Figure 4A1 and B1) and two-line dot-bracket encoding of every quadruplex.

Note: DSSR contains an undocumented option --G4. With the ONZ variant, i.e., --g4=onz (case does not matter), DSSR also outputs the ONZ classification of G-tetrads from the same chain.


DSSR comprehensively examines the G4 structure, determines a variety of its parameters and provides the schematic 3D view.

It is worth noting that DSSR has been categorized under “Databases with G4-related data” and “Tools that analyze and visualize 2D and 3D structure” of the Methods section. It is not a tool that predicts G4 location in the sequence. There are 14 tools listed in “Table 2. Selected features of PQS prediction tools”, including G4Hunter and QGRS Mapper etc.





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