Author(s): Xu W, Ellington AD
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Abstract In vitro selection of nucleic acid binding species (aptamers) is superficially similar to the immune response. Both processes produce biopolymers that can recognize targets with high affinity and specificity. While antibodies are known to recognize the sequence and conformation of protein surface features (epitopes), very little is known about the precise interactions between aptamers and their epitopes. Therefore, aptamers that could recognize a particular epitope, a peptide fragment of human immunodeficiency virus type I Rev, were selected from a random sequence RNA pool. Several of the selected RNAs could bind the free peptide more tightly than a natural RNA ligand, the Rev-binding element. In accord with the hypothesis that protein and nucleic acid binding cusps are functionally similar, interactions between aptamers and the peptide target could be disrupted by sequence substitutions. Moreover, the aptamers appeared to be able to bind peptides with different solution conformations, implying an induced fit mechanism for binding. Just as anti-peptide antibodies can sometimes recognize the corresponding epitope when presented in a protein, the anti-peptide aptamers were found to specifically bind to Rev.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology