Quantum gravity or string compactification can lead to effective dimension-5 operators in Grand Unified Theories which modify the gauge kinetic terms. We exhaustively discuss the group-theoretic nature of such operators for the popular SU(5), SO(10), and E(6) models. In particular, for SU(5) only a Higgs in the 200 representation can help bring the couplings to unification below the Planck scale and in consistency with proton decay limits while for a supersymmetric version 24, 75, or 200 representations are all acceptable. The results also have a direct application in non-universality of gaugino masses in a class of supersymmetric models where identical group-theoretic features obtain. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.