Aptamers are single-stranded structured oligonucleotides (DNA or RNA) that can bind to a wide range of targets ("apatopes") with high affinity and specificity. These nucleic acid ligands, generated from pools of random-sequence by an in vitro selection process referred to as systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX), have now been identified as excellent tools for chemical biology, therapeutic delivery, diagnosis, research, and monitoring therapy in real-time imaging. Today, aptamers represent an interesting class of modern Pharmaceuticals which with their low immunogenic potential mimic extend many of the properties of monoclonal antibodies in diagnostics, research, and therapeutics. More recently, chimeric aptamer approach employing many different possible types of chimerization strategies has generated more stable and efficient chimeric aptamers with aptamer-aptamer, aptamer-nonaptamer biomacromolecules (siRNAs, proteins) and aptamer-nanoparticle chimeras. These chimeric aptamers when conjugated with various biomacromolecules like locked nucleic acid (LNA) to potentiate their stability, biodistribution, and targeting efficiency, have facilitated the accurate targeting in preclinical trials. We developed LNA-aptamer (anti-nucleolin and EpCAM) complexes which were loaded in iron-saturated bovine lactofeerin (Fe-blf)-coated dopamine modified surface of superparamagnetic iron oxide (Fe3O4) nanoparticles (SPIONs). This complex was used to deliver the specific aptamers in tumor cells in a co-culture model of normal and cancer cells. This review focuses on the chimeric aptamers, currently in development that are likely to find future practical applications in concert with other therapeutic molecules and modalities.
Aptamer; SELEX; chimera; targeted drug delivery; si RNA; locked nucleic acid; nanoparticles
Aptamers are single-stranded DNA or RNA oligonucleotides, which are able to bind with high affinity and specificity to their target. This property is used for a multitude of applications, for instance as molecular recognition elements in biosensors and other assays. Biosensor application of aptamers offers the possibility for fast and easy detection of environmental relevant substances. Pharmaceutical residues, deriving from human or animal medical treatment, are found in surface, ground, and drinking water. At least the whole range of frequently administered drugs can be detected in noticeable concentrations. Biosensors and assays based on aptamers as specific recognition elements are very convenient for this application because aptamer development is possible for toxic targets. Commonly used biological receptors for biosensors like enzymes or antibodies are mostly unavailable for the detection of pharmaceuticals. This review describes the research activities of aptamer and sensor developments for pharmaceutical detection, with focus on environmental applications.
Aptamer; Small organic molecule; Pharmaceutical; Biosensor; Environmental analysis
Aptamers are single-stranded nucleic acids that specifically recognize and bind tightly to their cognate targets due to their stable three-dimensional structure. Nucleic acid aptamers have been developed for various applications, including diagnostics, molecular imaging, biomarker discovery, target validation, therapeutics, and drug delivery. Due to their high specificity and binding affinity, aptamers directly block or interrupt the functions of target proteins making them promising therapeutic agents for the treatment of human maladies. Additionally, aptamers that bind to cell surface proteins are well suited for the targeted delivery of other therapeutics, such as conjugated small interfering RNAs (siRNA) that induce RNA interference (RNAi). Thus, aptamer-siRNA chimeras may offer dual-functions, in which the aptamer inhibits a receptor function, while the siRNA internalizes into the cell to target a specific mRNA. This review focuses on the current progress and therapeutic potential of RNA aptamers, including the use of cell-internalizing aptamers as cell-type specific delivery vehicles for targeted RNAi. In particular, we discuss emerging aptamer-based therapeutics that provide unique clinical opportunities for the treatment various cancers and neurological diseases.
RNA aptamers; systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment; RNA interference; small interfering RNA; targeted delivery
Nucleic acid aptamers are in vitro-selected small, single-stranded DNA or RNA oligonucleotides that can specifically recognize their target on the basis of their unique 3-dimensional structures. Recent advances in the development of escort aptamers to deliver and enhance the efficacy of other therapeutic agents have drawn enthusiasm in exploiting cell-type-specific aptamers as drug delivery vehicles. This review mainly focuses on the recent developments of aptamer-mediated targeted delivery systems. We also place particular emphasis on aptamers evolved against cell membrane receptors and possibilities for translation to clinical applications.
To reduce the adverse effects of cancer therapies and increase their efficacy, new delivery agents that specifically target cancer cells are needed. We and others have shown that aptamers can selectively deliver therapeutic oligonucleotides to the endosome and cytoplasm of cancer cells that express a particular cell surface receptor. Identifying a single aptamer that can internalize into many different cancer cell-types would increase the utility of aptamer-mediated delivery of therapeutic agents. We investigated the ability of the nucleolin aptamer (AS1411) to internalize into multiple cancer cell types and observed that it internalizes into a wide variety of cancer cells and migrates to the nucleus. To determine if the aptamer could be utilized to deliver therapeutic oligonucleotides to modulate events in the nucleus, we evaluated the ability of the aptamer to deliver splice-switching oligonucleotides. We observed that aptamer-splice-switching oligonucleotide chimeras can alter splicing in the nuclei of treated cells and are effective at lower doses than the splice switching oligonucleotides alone. Our results suggest that aptamers can be utilized to deliver oligonucleotides to the nucleus of a wide variety of cancer cells to modulate nuclear events such as RNA splicing.
The clinical potential of siRNAs for silencing genes critical to disease progression is clear, but a fail-proof method for delivering siRNAs to the cytoplasm of diseased tissues or cells has yet to be identified. A variety of delivery approaches have been explored to directly or indirectly couple siRNAs to delivery vehicles. This review explores the use of synthetic single-stranded DNA and RNA aptamers as a means to deliver siRNAs, shRNAs and antisense oligonucleotides for therapeutic intervention. Topics covered include: the advantages and challenges of using aptamers as delivery tools; current aptamer-mediated siRNA delivery platforms for the treatment of cancer and HIV; and emerging methodologies for the identification of aptamers capable of internalizing into target cell types.
Small organic molecules are challenging targets for an aptamer selection using the SELEX technology (SELEX—Systematic Evolution of Ligans by EXponential enrichment). Often they are not suitable for immobilization on solid surfaces, which is a common procedure in known aptamer selection methods. The Capture-SELEX procedure allows the selection of DNA aptamers for solute targets. A special SELEX library was constructed with the aim to immobilize this library on magnetic beads or other surfaces. For this purpose a docking sequence was incorporated into the random region of the library enabling hybridization to a complementary oligo fixed on magnetic beads. Oligonucleotides of the library which exhibit high affinity to the target and a secondary structure fitting to the target are released from the beads for binding to the target during the aptamer selection process. The oligonucleotides of these binding complexes were amplified, purified, and immobilized via the docking sequence to the magnetic beads as the starting point of the following selection round. Based on this Capture-SELEX procedure, the successful DNA aptamer selection for the aminoglycoside antibiotic kanamycin A as a small molecule target is described.
Aptamers are short single-stranded nucleic acids with high affinity to target molecules and are applicable to therapeutics and diagnostics. Regardless of an increasing number of reported aptamers, the structural basis of the interaction of RNA aptamer with proteins is poorly understood. Here, we determined the 2.15 Å crystal structure of the Fc fragment of human IgG1 (hFc1) complexed with an anti-Fc RNA aptamer. The aptamer adopts a characteristic structure fit to hFc1 that is stabilized by a calcium ion, and the binding activity of the aptamer can be controlled many times by calcium chelation and addition. Importantly, the aptamer–hFc1 interaction involves mainly van der Waals contacts and hydrogen bonds rather than electrostatic forces, in contrast to other known aptamer–protein complexes. Moreover, the aptamer–hFc1 interaction involves human IgG-specific amino acids, rendering the aptamer specific to human IgGs, and not crossreactive to other species IgGs. Hence, the aptamer is a potent alternative for protein A affinity purification of Fc-fusion proteins and therapeutic antibodies. These results demonstrate, from a structural viewpoint, that conformational plasticity and selectivity of an RNA aptamer is achieved by multiple interactions other than electrostatic forces, which is applicable to many protein targets of low or no affinity to nucleic acids.
With many advantages over other therapeutic agents such as monoclonal antibodies, aptamers have recently emerged as a novel and powerful class of ligands with excellent potential for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Typically generated through Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment (SELEX), aptamers have been selected against a wide range of targets such as proteins, phospholipids, sugars, nucleic acids, as well as whole cells. DNA/RNA aptamers are single-stranded DNA/RNA oligonucleotides (with a molecular weight of 5–40 kDa) that can fold into well-defined 3D structures and bind to their target molecules with high affinity and specificity. A number of strategies have been adopted to synthesize aptamers with enhanced in vitro/in vivo stability, aiming at potential therapeutic/diagnostic applications in the clinic. In cardiovascular diseases, aptamers can be developed into therapeutic agents as anti-thrombotics, anti-coagulants, among others. This review focuses on aptamers that were selected against various molecular targets involved in cardiovascular diseases: von Willebrand factor (vWF), thrombin, factor IX, phospholamban, P-selectin, platelet-derived growth factor, integrin αvβ3, CXCL10, vasopressin, among others. With continued effort in the development of aptamer-based therapeutics, aptamers will find their niches in cardiovascular diseases and significantly impact clinical patient management.
Aptamers; cardiovascular diseases; von Willebrand factor (vWF); thrombin; factor IX; DNA; RNA; peptide aptamer
Disease-specific biomarkers are an important tool for the timely and effective management of pathological conditions, including determination of susceptibility, diagnosis, and monitoring efficacy of preventive or therapeutic strategies. Aptamers, comprising single-stranded or double-stranded DNA or RNA, can serve as biomarkers of disease or biological states. Aptamers can bind to specific epitopes on macromolecules by virtue of their three dimensional structures and, much like antibodies, aptamers can be used to target specific epitopes on the basis of their molecular shape. The Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment (SELEX) is the approach used to select high affinity aptamers for specific macromolecular targets from among the >1013 oligomers comprising typical random oligomer libraries. In the present study, we used live cell-based SELEX to identify DNA aptamers which recognize cell surface differences between HPV-transformed cervical carcinoma cancer cells and isogenic, nontumorigenic, revertant cell lines.
Whole-cell SELEX methodology was adapted for use with adherent cell lines (which we termed Adherent Cell-SELEX (AC-SELEX)). Using this approach, we identified high affinity aptamers (nanomolar range Kd) to epitopes specific to the cell surface of two nontumorigenic, nontumorigenic revertants derived from the human cervical cancer HeLa cell line, and demonstrated the loss of these epitopes in another human papillomavirus transformed cervical cancer cell line (SiHa). We also performed preliminary investigation of the aptamer epitopes and their binding characteristics.
Using AC-SELEX we have generated several aptamers that have high affinity and specificity to the nontumorigenic, revertant of HPV-transformed cervical cancer cells. These aptamers can be used to identify new biomarkers that are related to carcinogenesis. Panels of aptamers, such as these may be useful in predicting the tumorigenic potential and properties of cancer biopsies and aid in the effective management of pathological conditions (diagnosis, predicted outcome, and treatment options).
The development of reagents with high affinity and specificity to small molecules is crucial for the high-throughput detection of chemical compounds, such as toxicants or pollutants. Aptamers are short and single-stranded (ss) oligonucleotides able to recognize target molecules with high affinity. Here, we report the selection of ssDNA aptamers that bind to Bisphenol A (BPA), an environmental hormone. Using SELEX process, we isolated high affinity aptamers to BPA from a 1015 random library of 60 mer ssDNAs. The selected aptamers bound specifically to BPA, but not to structurally similar molecules, such as Bisphenol B with one methyl group difference, or 4,4′-Bisphenol with 2 methyl groups difference. Using these aptamers, we developed an aptamer-based sol–gel biochip and detected BPA dissolved in water. This novel BPA aptamer-based detection can be further applied to the universal and high-specificity detection of small molecules.
A reversible cell labelling method has been developed for non-destructive and non-invasive cell labelling and purification. Our method uses high affinity single strand DNA (ssDNA) aptamers against surface exposed target molecules on cells. The aptamers are subsequently removed from the cell surface using DNase nuclease treatment. We exemplified our method by labelling human acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells with Qdot-ssDNA aptamers, and restoring them to the label-free condition by treatment with Benzonase. Binding of the fluorescent-aptamers to the cells was evaluated by measuring fluorescence intensity and was further confirmed using flow cytometry. Removal of the aptamers can be achieved in ~10 min by the DNase nuclease digestion. Incubation of cells with aptamers or with the nucleases results in no apparent damage to the cells and does not affect their growth rates. The latter were equivalent to the rates measured for the untreated cells. Our method provides an alternative to traditional antibody-based techniques and could be especially suitable for non-invasive reversible cell labelling and cell separations where maintaining native cell activity is needed.
Over the past several decades, rapid developments in both molecular and information technology have collectively increased our ability to understand molecular recognition. One emerging area of interest in molecular recognition research includes the isolation of aptamers. Aptamers are single-stranded nucleic acid or amino acid polymers that recognize and bind to targets with high affinity and selectivity. While research has focused on collecting aptamers and their interactions, most of the information regarding experimental methods remains in the unstructured and textual format of peer reviewed publications. To address this, we present the Aptamer Base, a database that provides detailed, structured information about the experimental conditions under which aptamers were selected and their binding affinity quantified. The open collaborative nature of the Aptamer Base provides the community with a unique resource that can be updated and curated in a decentralized manner, thereby accommodating the ever evolving field of aptamer research.
The rational design of DNA/RNA aptamers for use as molecular probes depends on a clear understanding of their structural elements in relation to target-aptamer binding interactions. We present a simple method to create aptamer probes that can occupy two different structural states. Then, based on the difference in binding affinity between these states, target-aptamer binding interactions can be elucidated. The basis of our two-state system comes from the incorporation of azobenzene within the DNA strand. Azobenzene can be used to photo-regulate the melting of DNA-duplex structures. When incorporated into aptamers, the light-regulated conformational change of azobenzene can be used to analyze how aptamer secondary structure is involved in target binding. Azobenzene modified aptamers showed no change in target selectivity, but showed differences in binding affinity as a function of the number, position, and conformation of azobenzene modifications. Aptamer probes that can change binding affinity on demand may have future uses in targeted drug delivery and photodynamic therapy.
Aptamers are single-stranded nucleic acids that fold into stable three-dimensional structures with ligand binding sites that are complementary in shape and charge to a desired target. Aptamers are generated by an iterative process known as in vitro selection, which permits their isolation from pools of random sequences. While aptamers have been selected to bind a wide range of targets, it is generally thought that these molecules are incapable of discriminating strongly alkaline proteins due to the attractive forces that govern oppositely charged polymers (e.g., polyelectrolyte effect). Histones, eukaryotic proteins that make up the core structure of nucleosomes are interesting targets for exploring the binding properties of aptamers because these proteins have positively charged surfaces that bind DNA through non-covalent sequence-independent interactions. Previous selections by our lab and others have yielded DNA aptamers with high affinity but low specificity to individual histone proteins. Whether this is a general limitation of aptamers is an interesting question with important practical implications in the future development of protein affinity reagents. Here we report the in vitro selection of a DNA aptamer that binds to histone H4 with a Kd of 13 nM and distinguishes other core histone proteins by 100 to 480-fold, which corresponds to a ΔΔG of up to 3.4 kcal/mol. This result extends our fundamental understanding of aptamers to include the ability to fold into shapes that selectively bind alkaline proteins.
Aptamer; DNA; molecular evolution; histone proteins
Aptamers are single-stranded synthetic DNA- or RNA-based oligonucleotides that fold into various shapes to bind to a specific target, which includes proteins, metals, and molecules. Aptamers have high affinity and high specificity that are comparable to that of antibodies. They are obtained using iterative method, called (Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment) SELEX and cell-based SELEX (cell-SELEX). Aptamers can be paired with recent advances in nanotechnology, microarray, microfluidics, and other technologies for applications in clinical medicine. One particular area that aptamers can shed a light on is biomarker discovery. Biomarkers are important in diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In this paper, we will describe ways in which aptamers can be used to discover biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and therapeutics.
Aptamers are structured oligonucleotides that recognize molecular targets and can function as direct protein inhibitors. The best-known example is the thrombin-binding aptamer, TBA, a single-stranded 15-mer DNA that inhibits the activity of thrombin, the key enzyme of coagulation cascade. TBA folds as a G-quadruplex structure, as proved by its NMR structure. The X-ray structure of the complex between TBA and human α-thrombin was solved at 2.9-Å resolution, but did not provide details of the aptamer conformation and the interactions with the protein molecule. TBA is rapidly processed by nucleases. To improve the properties of TBA, a number of modified analogs have been produced. In particular, a modified TBA containing a 5′-5′ polarity inversion site, mTBA, has higher stability and higher affinity toward thrombin with respect to TBA, although it has a lower inhibitory activity. We present the crystal structure of the thrombin–mTBA complex at 2.15-Å resolution; the resulting model eventually provides a clear picture of thrombin–aptamers interaction, and also highlights the structural bases of the different properties of TBA and mTBA. Our findings open the way for a rational design of modified aptamers with improved potency as anticoagulant drugs.
Nucleic acid aptamers offer significant potential as convenient and evolvable targeting groups for drug delivery. To attach them to the surface of a genome-free viral capsid carrier, an efficient oxidative coupling strategy has been developed. The method involves the periodate-mediated reaction of phenylene diamine substituted oligonucleotides with aniline groups installed on the outer surface of the capsid shells. Up to 60 DNA strands can be attached to each viral capsid with no apparent loss of base-pairing capabilities or protein stability. The ability of the capsids to bind specific cellular targets was demonstrated through the attachment of a 41-nucleotide sequence that targets a tyrosine kinase receptor on Jurkat T cells. After the installation of a fluorescent dye on the capsid interior, capsids bearing the cell-targeting sequence showed significant levels of binding to the cells relative to control samples. Colocalization experiments using confocal microscopy indicated that the capsids were endocytosed and trafficked to lysosomes for degradation. These observations suggest that aptamer-labeled capsids could be used for the targeted drug delivery of acid-labile prodrugs that would be preferentially released upon lysosomal acidification.
Rapid development of anticancer therapies has occurred, but many challenges remain, including difficulties in early detection and the side effects from chemotherapy. To address these problems, aptamers, which are single-stranded DNA or RNA oligonucleotides with high selectivity, affinity and stability, have attracted considerable attention for biomedical applications. These oligonucleotides, which are selected by an in vitro process known as cell systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (cell-SELEX), have demonstrated the merits required to recognize disease cells. As such, they show great potential for applications in both clinical and laboratory settings. This review focuses on recently developed techniques utilizing aptamers in cancer research, including cancer cell detection, sorting and enrichment, as well as targeted drug delivery for cancer therapy.
Here we describe a new DNA capture element (DCE) sensing system, based on the quenching and dequenching of a double-stranded aptamer. This system shows very good sensitivity and thermal stability. While quenching, dequenching, and separating the DCE systems made from different aptamers (all selected by SELEX), an alternative method to rapidly select aptamers was developed—the Aptamer Selection Express (ASExp). This process has been used to select aptamers against different types of targets (Bacillus anthracis spores, Bacillus thuringiensis spores, MS-2 bacteriophage, ovalbumin, and botulinum neurotoxin). The DCE systems made from botulinum neurotoxin aptamers selected by ASExp have been investigated. The results of this investigation indicate that ASExp can be used to rapidly select aptamers for the DCE sensing system.
aptamer; ASExp; DCE; SELEX
Aptamers, single stranded DNA or RNA molecules, generated by a method called SELEX (systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment) have been widely used in various biomedical applications. The newly developed Cell-SELEX (cell based-SELEX) targeting whole living cells has raised great expectations for cancer biology, -therapy and regenerative medicine. Combining nanobiotechnology with aptamers, this technology opens the way to more sophisticated applications in molecular diagnosis. This paper gives a review of recent developments in SELEX technologies and new applications of aptamers.
cell-SELEX; aptamer; nanotechnology
Aptamers are single-stranded oligonucleotides of DNA or RNA that bind to target molecules with high affinity and specificity. Typically, aptamers are generated by an iterative selection process, called systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX). Recent advancements in SELEX technology have extended aptamer selection from comparatively simple mixtures of purified proteins to whole living cells, and now cell-based SELEX (or cell-SELEX) can isolate aptamers that bind to specific target cells. Combined with nanotechnology, microchips, microfluidic devices, RNAi and other advanced technologies, cell-SELEX represents an integrated platform providing ultrasensitive and highly specific tools for clinical medicine. In this review, we describe the recent progress made in the application of cell-SELEX for diagnosis, therapy and biomarker discovery.
aptamer; SELEX; molecular medicine
Escort aptamers are DNA or RNA sequences with high affinity to certain
cell-surface proteins, which can be used for targeted delivery of various agents
into cells of a definite type. The peculiarities of the selection of escort
aptamers are discussed in this review. The methods used in selection of escort
aptamers via the SELEX technique are considered, including selection against
isolated cell-surface proteins, cell fragments, living eukaryotic cells, and
bacteria. Particular attention is given to the design and chemical modification
of escort aptamers. The different fields of application of escort aptamers are
described, including the targeted delivery of siRNAs, nanoparticles, toxins, and
photoagents, as well as the identification of specific cell markers and the
detection or isolation of cells of a definite type. The potential for the
application of escort aptamers in the development of new therapeutic agents and
diagnostic systems is also discussed.
SELEX method; NA aptamers; escort aptamers; specific cell binding; addressed cell delivery; detection of cells
It is well known that nucleic acids play an essential role in living organisms because they store and transmit genetic information and use that information to direct the synthesis of proteins. However, less is known about the ability of nucleic acids to bind specific ligands and the application of oligonucleotides as molecular probes or biosensors. Oligonucleotide probes are single-stranded nucleic acid fragments that can be tailored to have high specificity and affinity for different targets including nucleic acids, proteins, small molecules, and ions. One can divide oligonucleotide-based probes into two main categories: hybridization probes that are based on the formation of complementary base-pairs, and aptamer probes that exploit selective recognition of nonnucleic acid analytes and may be compared with immunosensors. Design and construction of hybridization and aptamer probes are similar. Typically, oligonucleotide (DNA, RNA) with predefined base sequence and length is modified by covalent attachment of reporter groups (one or more fluorophores in fluorescence-based probes). The fluorescent labels act as transducers that transform biorecognition (hybridization, ligand binding) into a fluorescence signal. Fluorescent labels have several advantages, for example high sensitivity and multiple transduction approaches (fluorescence quenching or enhancement, fluorescence anisotropy, fluorescence lifetime, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), and excimer-monomer light switching). These multiple signaling options combined with the design flexibility of the recognition element (DNA, RNA, PNA, LNA) and various labeling strategies contribute to development of numerous selective and sensitive bioassays. This review covers fundamentals of the design and engineering of oligonucleotide probes, describes typical construction approaches, and discusses examples of probes used both in hybridization studies and in aptamer-based assays.
FigureHybridization with a nucleic acid target or affinity interactions with a nonnucleic acid target generate changes in the fluorescence characteristics of a nucleic acid-based fluorescent probe
Bioanalytical methods; Bioassays; Biosensors; Chemical sensors; Fluorescence/luminescence; Nucleic acids (DNA, RNA)
In this contribution, an electrochemical aptameric sensing scheme for the sensitive detection of small molecules is proposed using adenosine as a target model. A ferrocene (Fc)-functionalized thiolated aptamer probe is adapted and immobilized onto an electrode surface. Introducing a recognition site for EcoRI into the aptamer sequence not only suppresses the peak current corresponding to blank sample but also provides a signal-on response mechanism. In the absence of adenosine, the aptamer can fold into a hairpin structure and form a cleavable double-stranded region. Fc is capable of being removed from electrode surface by treatment with endonuclease, and almost no peak current is observed. The adenosine/aptamer binding induces the conformational transition of designed aptamer, dissociating the cleavable double-stranded segment. Therefore, the integrated aptamer sequence is maintained when exposing to endonuclease, generating a peak current of Fc. Utilizing the present sensing scheme, adenosine even at a low concentration can give a detectable current signal. Thus, a detection limit of 10−10 M and a linear response range from 3.74 × 10−9 to 3.74 × 10−5 M are achieved. The proposed proof-of-principle of a novel electrochemical sensing is expected to extend to establish various aptameric platforms for the analysis of a broad range of target molecules of interest.