Watson and Crick described how human DNA forms a double-helical structure. However, there are motifs in the genome called non-B motifs that can form alternative folded structures called non-canonical secondary structures, and these can be detrimental when they form.
As part of his PhD, Ilias Georgokopoulos-Soares showed how these non-B motifs could cause a higher likelihood of DNA damage, resulting in a higher chance of creating mutations. In a collaboration between the Nik-Zainal lab at the Academic Department of Medical Genetics and the Hemberg lab at Sanger Institute, Ilias studied 1,809 whole genome sequenced cancers of ten different tumor types, and demonstrated that non-B motifs were more mutable particularly at certain physical components, for example the loops were more likely to be mutated than the stems of certain non-B motifs. Ilias called for caution in the interpretation of loci in the human cancer genomes that are hypermutated, as these could simply be due to highly accident-prone sites such as non-B motif sequences.
Link to full article: https://genome.cshlp.org/content/28/9/1264.long